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From  the  collection  of  the 

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San  Francisco,  California 
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LIBRARY 

ESTABLISHED   lb/2 

LAWRENCE,  MASS. 


THE 


NOETH   AMERICAN 
REYIETT. 


VOL.  CXI. 


Tros  Tyriusque  mihi  nullo  discrimine  agetur. 


BOSTON: 
FIELDS,    OSGOOD,     &     CO. 

1870. 


Entered  according  to  Act  of  Congress,  in  the  year  1870,  by 

FIELDS,     OSGOOD,     &     CO., 
in  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  District  Court  of  the  District  of  Massachusetts. 


UNIVERSITY  PRESS  :  WELCH,  BIGELOW,  &  Co., 
CAMBRIDGE. 


NORTH    AMERICAN    REVIEW 

No.  CCXXVIIL   W(IJ 


JULY,    1870. 


ART.  I.  —  AMERICAN  ART  MUSEUMS. 

WHEN  we  note  the  active  interest  in  the  improvement  of 
industrial  art  which  has  led,  of  late  years,  to  the  formation 
of  museums  in  so  many  foreign  cities,  and  estimate  the  pro 
gress  made  in  English  and  Continental  taste  through  their 
influence,  we  are  tempted  to  hope  that  there  is  a  future  in 
reserve  when  conformity  to  the  laws  of  beauty  will  again  be 
obligatory,  not  only  in  buildings,  pictures,  and  statues,  but 
also  in  all  objects  of  daily  use.  The  rich  heritage  of  beautiful 
forms  of  every  kind  and  shape  which  the  past  has  left  us  is 
now  made  to  minister  to  the  enjoyment  and  education  of  the 
people,  and  thus  taste,  which  formerly  could  only  be  cultivated 
by  the  great  and  wealthy,  will  gradually  permeate  the  masses, 
and  bring  about  the  time  when  the  artist  and  the  artisan  shall 
once  more  join  hands  and  raise  its  standard  to  a  generally  high 
level.  In  antiquity  and  the  Middle  Ages  this  was  accom 
plished  in  other  ways ;  for  although  there  were  no  public  mu 
seums,  and  the  .people  had  no  access  to  works  of  art  in  the 
halls  and  porticos  of  private  dwellings,  the  temple  and  the 
cathedral,  the  squares  and  streets  of  great  cities,  teemed  with 
masterpieces  which,  though  not  collected  together  for  that  pur 
pose,  were  active  agents  in  cultivating  public  taste. 

The  Greek  temple,  where  all  the  arts  of  design  were  united 
for  a  common  end,  was  a  complete  and  harmonious  entity, 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  1 


2  American  Art  Museums.  [July? 

whose   component  parts   were    form,    ornament,    and   color. 
Sculpture   gave   life   to  the  whole  edifice  and  told  its  story 
through  speaking  forms,  which  kindled  enthusiastic  reverence 
in  the  worshipper  as  his  eye  wandered  from  the  pediment  to 
the  metopes,  followed  the  circling  frieze,  and  at  last  rested 
upon  the  majestic  figure  of  the  titular  deity  within  the  cella, 
which  looked,  says  a  Greek  poet,  "  as  if  the  god  had  come  down 
to  earth  to  reveal  himself  to  the  sculptor,  that  he  might  repre 
sent  him  as  he  is."     Painting  brought  .out  the  varied  lines  of 
the  architecture,  gave  relief  to  the  groups  between  the  tri- 
glyphs,  marked  the  folds  of  the  draperies,  and  rendered  every 
detail  of  ornament  distinct  and  clear ;  while  architecture,  hold 
ing  the  decorative  arts  in  its  firm  grasp,  served  as  a  framework 
to  display  their  beauties  to  advantage,  and  borrowed  from  them 
a  grace  which  enhanced  their  special  perfections.    The  warrior's 
shield  suspended  to  a  column,  the  embroidered  "  peplos,"  the 
great  silver  bowl  made  out  of  the  tithes  of  the  spoils  of  a  battle 
field,  and  the  painted  vase  placed  within  the  sanctuary,  though 
detached  from  the  building,  were  yet  a  part  of  its  organism  as 
consecrated  offerings,  and  contributed  their  quota  to  the  general 
charm ;  for,  in  accordance  with  a  high  standard  of  perfection, 
they  were  all  beautiful  in  form  and  in  ornament.    As  the  tem 
ple  in  antiquity,  so  the  cathedral  in  the  Middle  Ages,  taught 
the  multitude  to  appreciate  art  through  the   many  forms  of 
beauty  which  were  brought  together   for  its  embellishment. 
The  altar  was  resplendent  with  utensils  precious  in  material 
and  beautiful  in  shape  ;  the  walls  glowed  with  frescos  ;   the 
pulpit  and  the  font  were  storied  with  bas-reliefs ;  the  pave 
ment  was  enriched  with  mosaics,  the  windows  with  colored 
glass  ;  the  roof  was  fretted  with  rich  carvings,  and  even  the 
topmost  pinnacle  above  it,  which  shot  up  into  the  blue  sky 
like  an  arrow  suspended  in  its  flight,  bore  upon  its  summit 
the  statuette  of  an  angel  or  a  saint,  often  finished  with  the 
same  care  as  if  its  details  were  to  be  daily  scanned  by  mor 
tal  eye. 

Time  and  iconoclasts  of  every  creed  and  nation  have  com 
bined  to  break  up  and  deface  many  of  these  glorious  units. 
The  gems  of  art  which  adorned  them  are  torn  from  their 
settings,  and  like  living  members  of  a  dead  organism  are 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  3 

gathered  together  in  galleries  and  museums,  where  they  serve 
an  end  foreign  to  that  for  which  they  were  created  by  cunning 
hands  long  since  stiffened  and  still.  Once  priests  and  servants 
of  religion,  they  are  now  our  masters  in  aesthetic  cultivation, 
and  grouped  in  strange  company  with  a  thousand  objects  made 
for  military  and  household  use,  whose  only  common  element 
with  them  is  that  of  beauty  and  fitness,  serve  to  imbue  men's 
minds  with  correct  principles  of  tas.te,  and  to  raise  the  decora 
tive  and  industrial  arts  to  a  higher  level  than  they  could  ever 
reach  without  such  aid.  Where  they  are  seen  this  is  fully  rec 
ognized,  and  where  they  are  not,  the  low  standard  of  taste  and 
attainment  in  art  proves  how  impossible  it  is  to  advance  with 
out  them.  Those  who  feel  this  would  hesitate  to  believe  that 
any  highly  civilized  nation  could  long  remain  indifferent  to 
their  acquisition,  especially  if  that  nation  should  show  itself 
peculiarly  alive  to  the  importance  of  all  other  educational  influ 
ences  ;  and  yet  such  is  the  case  in  America,  for  the  simple  rea 
son  that  appreciation  of  such  objects  has  not  been  cultivated 
by  familiarity  with  them. 

Men  naturally  ignore  the  value  of  things  to  which  they  are 
unaccustomed.  "  Experientia  docet"  is  a  trite  proverb  of 
universal  application.  Creatures  of  habit,  with  but  few  long 
ings  for  the  unknown,  we  seldom  recognize  the  narrowness  of 
our  habitual  range  of  thought  and  sympathy  until,  perchance, 
some  higher  and  nobler  field  of  activity  is  opened  to  us ; 
then  as  we  gain  glimpses  of  an  upper  life  hitherto  shut  out 
from  our  range  of  vision  we  look  back  with  wonder  at  our  pre 
vious  state  of  indifference.  A  single  example  will  suffice  to 
show  that  this  is  as  true  of  communities  as  it  is  of  individuals. 
Twelve  years  ago  the  citizens  of  New  York  lived  contentedly 
without  the  Central  Park,  and  those  of  Boston  without  the 
Public  Library,  just  as  they  are  living  at  the  present'  day  with 
out  such  Art  Museums  as  have  been  lately  projected  in  both 
cities.  Years  hence,  when  they  shall  have  learnt  their  value 
by  experience,  we  may  safely  predict  they  will  feel  about  the 
last  as  they  now  feel  about  the  first.  How  did  we  live  without 
them  ?  they  will  say,  and  how  vigorously  would  we  resist  any 
attempt  to  deprive  us  of  them ! 

In  view  of  the  great  progress  made  in  public  taste  as  regards 


4  American  Art  Museums.  [Ju^7> 

music,  we  may  fairly  believe  that  appreciation  of  the  sister 
arts  would  follow  upon  a  similar  course  of  effort  in  their  behalf. 
If  we  compare,  for  example,  the  Boston  of  thirty-five  years 
ago  with  the  Boston  of  to-day,  we  find  that  solid  musical 
progress  has  been  made.  Then  some  of  the  Symphonies  of 
Beethoven  were  first  played  by  an  ill-drilled  orchestra  to 
a  handful  of  willing  but  unenlightened  listeners  in  a  small 
theatre,  now  they  and  kindred  compositions  are  regularly  per 
formed  before  large  audiences  in  a  fine  Music  Hall.  Then 
good  organists  and  pianists  were  rare,  now  they  are  many,  and 
public  musical  instruction,  which  was  then  unknown,  is  now  well 
systematized.  Through  these  means  a  standard  of  taste  in  music 
has  been  formed,  and  the  public  has  gradually  learnt  to  distin 
guish  the  noble  from  the  ignoble,  —  the  music  which  satisfies  the 
highest  cravings  of  the  spirit  from  that  which  addresses  itself 
only  to  the  sensuous  part  of  man's  nature.  As  it  has  learnt  to 
estimate  the  relative  value  of  Mozart  and  Bellini,  why  should  it 
not  learn  to  estimate  that  of  Raphael  and  Carlo  Dolci  ?  As  it 
can  now  assign  their  right  places  in  the  scale  of  excellence  to 
Beethoven  and  Donizetti,  why  not  then  to  Phidias  and  Pra- 
dier  ?  There  is  evidently  no  reason  for  our  knowledge  of 
music,  but  the  simple  one  that  our  taste  for  it  has  been  culti 
vated  in  the  right  way,  nor  any  reason  for  our  ignorance  about 
other  forms  of  art,  except  that  we  have  been  cut  off  from  all 
means  of  enlightenment  about  them.  We  say  other  forms,  for 
art  is  a  unit,  not  a  multiple,  acting  upon  a  unit,  the  spirit  of 
man  ;  and  forms  of  art  are  but  different  manifestations  of  one 
and  the  same  thing.  The  question  is  only  one  of  different 
modes  of  action  on  the  one  hand,  and  of  different  avenues  of 
reception  on  the  other  ;  music,  architecture,  poetry,  sculpture, 
and  painting  are  but  palpable  modes  of  transmitting  the 
thoughts  of  one  mind  to  other  minds,  and  whether  these  be 
conveyed  through  sounds  or  stones,  verse,  marble,  or  color, 
the  object  of  art  is  to  move,  raise,  and  instruct  us,  to  take  us 
out  of  ourselves,  and  thus  make  us  share  for  a  time  in  the 
lofty  dreams  of  the  privileged  few  who  are  called  the  sons  of 
genius. 

Some  of  us  are  by  virtue  of  special  aptitudes  more  open  to 
the  influence  of  music,  others  to  that  of  sculpture  or  of  paint- 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  5 

ing,  and  yet  none  will  claim  that  the  art  which  speaks  most 
forcibly  to  his  nature  is  greater  than  any  other  or  more 
worthy  pf  cultivation  in  the  abstract.  We  must  seek  to  look 
at  art  in  a  broad  way,  not  from  the  subjective  but  from  the 
objective  point  of  view,  and  value  all  arts  as  alike  means  to  a 
noble  end.  Something  has  been  done  for  music  in  America, 
now  we  must  do  as  much  and  more  for  other  arts,  both 
because  of  their  elevating  effect  upon  us  as  a  nation,  and 
because  through  them  we  may  give  a  hitherto  unknown  value 
to  our  industrial  products.  This  can  only  be  done  by  the 
organization  of  comprehensive  museums,  which  will  raise  the 
standard  of  taste,  furnish  materials  for  study  to  artists  and 
archaeologists,  affect  industry,  and  provide  places  of  resort  for 
the  general  public  where  amusement  and  unconscious  instruc 
tion  will  be  combined. 

All  will  agree  that  these  aims  are  highly  laudable,  and  that 
such  institutions  are  the  only  possible  agents  for  their  accom 
plishment,  but  there  is  a  great  difference  of  opinion  as  to  the 
objects  with  which  Art  Museums  should  be  filled.  The  pur 
pose  of  this  article  is  to  suggest  what  these  should  be,  and  to 
show  how  they  can  be  so  efficiently  organized  as  best  to  accom 
plish  the  great  work  to  be  done,  their  office  being,  as  it  seems 
to  us,  before  all  else  educational. 

Human  judgment  being  fallible,  we  often  miss  the  right  road 
towards  a  desirable  end,  even  with  the  best  intentions,  but 
there  are  some  cases,  of  which  the -present  appears  to  be  one, 
when  it  lies  so  plainly  marked  out  before  us  that  we  have  our 
selves  only  to  thank  if  we  blunder  and  go  wrong.  If  muse 
ums  are  to  be  made  invalid  hospitals  for  poor  pictures  and 
many  other  sorts  of  rubbish  bestowed  upon  them  by  persons  of 
doubtful  judgment,  their  action  will  be  highly  deleterious  ;  but 
if,  on  the  contrary,  they  are  what  they  ought  to  be  and  can  be 
made  by  the  exercise  of  judgment,  firmness,  and  common  sense, 
they  cannot  but  be  in  the  highest  degree  beneficial  in  their 
effects  upon  all  classes  of  the  community. 

Many  persons  when  .talking  about  an  American  Museum 
have  a  dim  idea  of  another  Louvre  or  National  Gallery,  whose 
walls  are  by  some  miraculous  process  to  be  speedily  covered 
with  Raphaels  and  Correggios,  and  whose  sculpture  galleries 


6  American  Art  Museums. 

are  to  be  lined  with  ancient  and  mediaeval  masterpieces ; 
others  again  think  that,  as  it  is  a  good  thing  to  encourage 
native  talent,  it  ought  to  be  for  the  most  part  filled  with 
American  pictures  and  statues.  Now,  however  much  we  may 
admire  the  high  aims  of  the  first  and  the  patriotic  motives 
of  the  second,  we  agree  with  neither  party.  Not  that  we 
undervalue  Raphaels,  Correggios,  and  Greek  marbles,  or  that 
we  are  incapable  of  appreciating  the  solid  qualities  of  a  Hunt 
or  a  Kensett,  or  wanting  in  esteem  for  so  excellent  a  group  as 
Ball's  equestrian  statue  of  Washington,  or  Story's  Cleopatra, 
our  reasons  are  simply,  that  the  first  are  entirely  out  of  our 
reach,  and  that,  whatever  their  merits,  the  second  are  not  fit 
implements  for  the  instruction  of  a  nation  in  art. 

Have  the  ambitious  spirits  who  propose  to  us  the  nectar 
and  ambrosia  of  art  any  conception  of  what  sums  we  should 
have  to  pay  for  such  celestial  food  ?  Are  they  aware  that 
the  English,  French,  and  Bavarian  governments  have  gained 
their  marbles,  bronzes,  terra-cottas,  and  vases  by  fitting  out 
expeditions  to  Greece,  Asia  Minor,  and  Egypt,  under  the 
direction  of  men  trained  from  their  youth  up  in  archaeology 
and  art,  and  empowered  to  hire  excavators,  and  bribe  princes, 
paying  them  sums  which  would  make  Wall  Street  or  State 
Street  shudder  ?  Do  they  know  that  the  sale  of  a  real  Ra 
phael  is  an  event  in  Europe  whose  probability  is  known  long 
beforehand,  so  that  on  the  appointed  day  the  privilege  of 
buying  it  is  eagerly  disputed  by  the  directors  of  all  the  great 
galleries  north  of  the  Alps  ?  Do  they  know  that  the  Na 
tional  Gallery  paid  seven  thousand  pounds  for  the  Suermondt 
Rembrandt,  and  eight  thousand  pounds  for  the  Garvagh  Ra 
phael  ;  that  the-  Delessert  Raphael  was  considered  by  many 
to  have  been  given  away  to  the  Due  d'Aumale  at  one  hun 
dred  and  sixty  thousand  francs ;  that  the  Louvre  paid  six 
hundred  thousand  francs  for 'the  Assumption  of  the  Virgin 
by  Murillo ;  that  the  Congress  of  Munster  by  Teniers  —  a  lit 
tle  picture  about  a  foot  and  a  half  long  by  a  foot  high  —  was 
bought  in  at  the  Hotel  de$  Yentes  after  a  well-known  direc 
tor  had  bid  it  up  to  one  hundred  and  eighty  thousand  francs  ? 
And  if  they  know  these  facts,  and  fifty  more  equally  tell 
ing,  how  do  they  propose  to  raise  the  money  for  purchases 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  7 

of  equal  magnitude,  in  a  country  which  has  as  yet  no  large 
class  of  persons  who  value  art  sufficiently  to  be  willing  to 
give  immense  prices  for  masterpieces  ?  Where  will  they  find 
the  means  (even  if  they  could  find  the  men  capable  of  do 
ing  what  Botta  and  Layard  did  at  Nineveh,  Newton  at  Hali- 
carnassus,  Lepsius  in  Egypt,  or  Sir  Charles  Fellows  in  Lycia) 
to  fit  out  expeditions  in  the  service  of  art  and  archaeology  to 
distant  countries  ? 

Let  us  imagine  for  a  moment  the  distinguished  Senator  from 
Massachusetts,  who  has  more  than  once  courageously  opposed 
the  wasting  of  the  public  money  upon  persons  manifestly  unfit 
to  be  charged  with  the  execution  of  national  art  projects,  rising 
from  his  seat  to  propose  the  appropriation  of  a  large  sum  for 
an  expedition  to  the  buried  cities  of  Central  America,  with 
the  purpose  of  bringing  back  to  Washington  casts  of  those 
curious  temple  bas-reliefs  which  are  fast  perishing  in  the 
green  wilderness.  What  answer  would  he  inevitably  receive  ? 
Certainly  a  very  different  one  from  that  given  to  Mr.  Fergusson 
in  England  when,  after  he  had  drawn  attention  to  the  curious 
sculptures  which  had  long  lain  neglected  at  the  India  House  in 
London,  he  asked  for  a  grant  to  be  used  in  sending  out  fit  per 
sons  to  India  to  take  casts  of  the  Budhist  Tope  at  Sanchi,  and 
of  other  valuable  monumental  sculptures  in  the  interior  of  the 
country.  And  yet  the  sculptures  at  Palenque  are  of  the  high 
est  value  as  examples  of  the  art  of  an  unknown  period  and 
people,  and  as  such  would  long  ago  have  been  rescued  from 
destruction  had  they  been  within  the  reach  of  any  European 
government.  Or  again,  what  would  Congress  say  if  it  were  • 
asked  to  spend  a  tithe  of  the  sums  granted  last  year  by  Par 
liament  for  the  support  of  art  institutions  in  Great  Britain  ? 
as,  for  example,  £  53,095  to  the  South  Kensington  Museum ; 
£  113,203  to  the  British  Museum  (which  sum,  it  is  true,  was 
spent  upon  all  its  departments)  ;  £  15,978  to  the  National  Gal 
lery,  and  £  49,724  to  numerous  art  schools  scattered  over  the 
three  kingdoms  ;  making  a  total  of  £  232,000,  —  considerably 
over  a  million  of  our  money.  Congress  would  say  No,  and 
very  rightly,  because  the  nation  whoss  will  they  execute  would 
consider  any  such  appropriation  illegal  and  absurd.  That 
there  are  persons  in  all  parts  of  the  Union  who  have  a  love  of 


8  American  Art  Museums.  [July, 

art,  and  who  know  what  good  art  is  and  estimate  its  mission 
rightly,  is  certain  ;  but  we  may  safely  say  that  as  a  nation  we 
should  be  totally  indifferent  if  all  the  works  of  art  in  the  world 
suddenly  vanished  into  space,  provided  a  few  chromo-lithographs 
were  left  to  hang  upon  our  walls,  and  a  few  French  bronzes  to 
put  on  our  mantel-pieces. 

Americans  are  well  known  in  Europe  as  purchasers  of  rare 
and  costly  books,  but  they  have  no  such  reputation  in  regard 
to  works  of  art,  nor  will  they  gain  it  until  they  have  Art  Mu 
seums  in  their  own  country  to  refine  and  elevate  their  taste. 
That  we  shall  have  them,  and  without  the  expenditure  of  im 
mense  sums  of  money,  there  can  be  no  doubt.  Not,  indeed,  ideal 
and  impossible  museums.,  filled  with  masterpieces  of  original 
art,  but  museums  mainly  composed  of  reproductions  of  statues, 
architectural  fragments,  monuments,  gems,  coins,  inscriptions, 
&c.,  &c.  These  will  answer  our  purpose,  as  we  aim  at  collecting 
material  for  the  education  of  a  nation  in  art,  not  at  making 
collections  of  objects  of  art.  That  must  be  done  at  a  later 
stage  of  national  development,  when  we  are  willing  to  pay  for 
them.  As  our  museums  must  be  filled  with  reproductions, 
pictorial  art  can  for  the  present  be  but  scantily  represented  in 
them,  for  good  copies  of  pictures  are  rare  and  very  costly.  A 
good  cast  of  an  antique  statue,  the  impress  of  a  coin  or  a  gem 
in  plaster  or  sulphur,  is  a  fac-simile  as  far  as  form  is  con 
cerned,  but  the  copy  of  a  picture  is  an  image  of  the  original 
reflected  through  the  mind  of  the  copyist,  and  more  or  less 
imbued  with  his  personality,  —  either  it  is  defective  in  ex 
pression,  drawing,  or  coloring,  and  in  some  of  these  par 
ticulars  likely  to  lead  the  student  into  error.  We  had  far 
better  purchase  small  water-color  copies  of  celebrated  paintings 
and  frescos,  or  sketches  made  in  the  fresh  enthusiasm  of  an 
hour  spent  before  them  by  some  clever  artist,  or  photographs 
which  faithfully  reproduce  their  composition  and  spirit,  than 
any  labored  copies  which  aim  at  identical  repetition  in  size  and 
material. 

In  saying  that  casts  and  metallic  reproductions  must  form 
the  staple  of  our  collections,  we  do  not  mean  that  they  are  to  be 
chosen  hap-hazard  from  the  originals  in  tjie  Vatican  or  British 
Museum,  and  ranged  without  system.  This  would  greatly  lessen 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  9 

their  utility.  What  we  want  is  a  representative  collection  which 
shall  illustrate  the  rise  and  progress  of  the  arts  and  their  grad 
ual  decadence.  For  this  purpose  the  examples  in  each  depart 
ment  must  be  arranged  chronologically,  so  that  the  professor  of 
art  and  archaeology  may  use  them  to  point  out  the  broad  dif 
ferences  between  the  sculpture  of  Egypt  and  Assyria,  may 
demonstrate  in  what  measure  each  influenced  early  Greek 
sculpture  without  stifling  its  innate  freedom  beneath  their 
own  hieratic  or  courtly  systems,  and  may  show  the  differ 
ences  between  Pre-Historic,  Archaic,  and  Phidian  art,  art 
of  the  Macedonian  and  Roman  periods,  pointing  out  as  he 
proceeds  how  and  why  sculpture  steadily  progressed  until  it 
culminated  in  the  age  of  Pericles,  and  as  steadily  declined 
until  it  almost  died  out  in  the  Dark  Ages,  then  rose  again 
in  the  Middle  Ages  from  Niccola  Pisano  to  Donatello,  and 
fell  away  through  the  splendid  extravagances  of  Michael  An- 
gelo  and  the  corrupt  principles  of  his  successors. 

So  also  by  means  of  a  progressive  series  of  architectural 
casts  the  professor  should  be  enabled  to  explain  the  history  of 
the  five  orders,  here  pointing  out  to  the  student  the  Proto-Doric 
columns  from  Beni  Hassan,  and  the  progressive  changes  in 
Greek  Doric  from  the  temple  at  Corinth  to  the  Parthenon, 
and  there  tracing  back  the  graceful  Ionic  to  the  Lycian  tombs. 
By  like  means  the  numismatist  should  be  enabled  to  discuss 
the  coins  and  medallions  of  peoples,  cities,  and  kings,  and  point 
out  their  variations  in  Greek  and  Roman  examples ;  while  the 
ethnographer  should  have  casts  of  Persian,  Egyptian,  and  As 
syrian  bas-reliefs  and  statues  at  hand  as  material  for  the  com 
parative  study  of  races,  and  the  palasologist  the  inscriptions 
gathered  from  many  parts  of  the  world  to  explain  the  distinc 
tive  peculiarities  of  monumental  writing. 

The  eminent  German  professor  of  archaeology,  Dr.  Heinrich 
Brunn,  who  has  the  precious  collection  of  marbles  at  the  Glyp- 
tothek  under  his  charge,  has  been  lately  urging  upon  the  Bava 
rian  government  the  importance  of  forming  a  complete  collec 
tion  of  casts  at  Munich,  and  but  for  the  inopportune  death  of 
King  Louis  would  before  now  have  succeeded  in  his  object.  In 
the  pamphlet  which  contains  an  exposition  of  his  views  upon  this 
subject,  the  learned  Professor  says  that,  "  Solid  and  thorough 


10  American  Art  Museums. 

study  is  impossible  without  an  acquaintance  with  works  of  all 
kinds,  the  originals  of  which  are  widely  scattered.  This  ac 
quaintance  can  only  be  obtained  through  plaster  casts,  which 
in  most  respects  supply  the  place  of  originals,  and  cannot  be 
dispensed  with  even  in  presence  of  the  originals.  Without 
them  the  professor  of  archaeology  cannot  illustrate  his  lec 
tures,  and  their  importance  is  so  generally  felt,  that  since 
Welcker  founded  the  collection  at  Bonn  every  German  uni 
versity  has  at  least  partially  followed  the  example."  Among 
the  many  studies  which  are  facilitated  by  casts  is  that  of 
mythology,  for  only  when  we  see  all  the  most  remarkable  rep 
resentations  of  gods  and  heroes  placed  side  by  side,  can  we 
estimate  the  sum  of  qualities  which  were  required  to  make  up 
the  ideal  of  deities  and  deified  men,  and  trace  the  progress 
made  towards  a  perfect  and  final  type  both  in  character  and 
in  technical  quality.  Again  busts  and  portrait  statues  of  emi 
nent  men  are  useful,  not  only  to  the  archaeologist,  the  philol 
ogist,  and  the  ethnographer,  but  also  to  the  classical  scholar, 
since  through  the  outward  form  the  inner  man  is  revealed. 
While  he  is  thus  enabled  to  enter  more  completely  into  the 
spirit  of  an  author's  works,  he  can  at  the  same  time  study  the 
characteristic  differences  of  race  and  outward  types  of  genius, 
and  better  comprehend  the  relation  between  periods  of  time 
(as,  for  instance,  between  the  age  of  Pericles  and  that  of  Alex 
ander)  and  the  physical  and  spiritual  antagonism  of  Hellenism 
to  Romanism. 

In  casts  of  statues  and  busts  the  technical  differences  be 
tween  the  method  of  working  in  marble  or  in  bronze  can  be 
studied  ;  while  in  architectural  fragments,  such  as  columns, 
bases,  capitals,  and  ornament,  the  arts  of  building  and  decora 
tion  in  different  countries  can  be  traced,  variations  in  taste 
followed  up,  and  power  to  distinguish  between  excellent  and 
vicious  styles  be  attained. 

In  order  to  give  an  idea  of  a  good  collection  of  Greek 
casts,  intended  to  illustrate  the  history  of  sculpture  in  Greece, 
we  subjoin  a  list  of  casts  classified  under  seven  heads,  pre 
mising  that,  as  it  is  framed  upon  the  apothegm  of  Seneca, 
"  Primus  habere  quod  necesse  est,  proximus  quod  sat  est,"  it 
is  simply  representative,  andjn  no  wise  aims  at  completeness. 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  11 

1st  Class.  —  Pre-Historic,  i.  e.  composed  of  works  prior  to 
the  first  Olympiad  (B.  C.  776)  ;  and  Dcedalic,  i.  e.  of  the 
period  embodied  in  the  name  of  Daedalus,  when  the  first  signs 
of  progress  appeared.  The  colossal  Lions  from  the  gate  at 
Mycenae  illustrate  the  first ;  the  Apollo  of  Thera  and  the 
Apollo  of  Tenea  from  the  Theseion  at  Athens,  the  second. 
These  statues  are  certainly  not  later  than  the  middle  of  the 
sixth  century  before  Christ. 

2d  Class.  —  Examples  of  early  Greek  or  Archaic  works, 
showing  study  of  the  human  form  in  action,  elaboration  of 
drapery,  and  attention  to  anatomical  detail,  such  as :  1.  The 
bas-relief  of  Agamemnon  and  his  heralds,  found  in  the  island 
of  Samothrace,  now  in  the  Louvre.  This  is  the  oldest  Greek 
bas-relief  known.  Judging  by  the  inscription,  it  belongs  to 
the  seventh  century  B.  C.  2.  The  stele  of  Aristion,  commonly 
called  the  soldier  of  Marathon  ;  3.  A  seated  Minerva.  4.  A 
Goddess  mounting  a  chariot,  now  in  the  Theseion  at  Athens. 

5.  The  earlier  reliefs  from  the  temples  at  Selinus  in  Sicily. 

6.  Sculptures  from  the  temples  and  tombs  at  Assos,  Miletus, 
and  Xanthus.     These  works  represent  Greek  sculpture  up  to 
the  fifth  century  B.  C.     7.  The  far-famed  ^Egina  marbles  from 
the  temple  of  Zeus  Panhellenius,  made  in  the  early  part  of 
the  fifth  century  B.  C.,  which  may  be  regarded  as  the  basis 
of  all  future  progress  in  sculpture. 

3o?  Class.  —  The  age  of  Pericles,  i.  e.  the  second  half  of 
the  fifth  century  B.  C.,  when  sculpture  under  Phidias  and  his 
scholars  attained  its  highest  point  of  excellence.  Examples : 
the  pediment  statues,  metopes,  and  frieze  of  the  Parthenon ; 
the  caryatides  of  the  Pandroseion  ;  the  bas-reliefs  of  the  Tem 
ples  of  Theseus  and  Nike  Apteros  at  Athens  ;  the  alto-reliefs 
from  Phigalia  and  Olympia  ;  the  Discobolus  and  Marsyas 
of  Myron,  the  Doryphorus  and  Diadumenos  of  Polycletus, 
of  which  copies  exist ;  and  numerous  Attic  steles  and  votive 
reliefs. 

4th  Class.  —  The  age  of  Alexander,  fourth  century  B.  C. 
Examples  :  Casts  from  the  originals,  and  Greco-Roman  copies 
of  the  works  of  Scopas,  Praxiteles,  and  Lysippus,  such  as  the 
bas-relief  of  the  marriage  of  Neptune  and  Amphitrite  in  the 
Glyptothek,  the  Halicarnassian  and  Xanthian  marbles,  the 


American  Art  Museums.  [«My> 

Flute-player,  the  Apoxyomenos,  the  reliefs  from  the  Choragic 
monument  of  Lysicrates,  &c.,  &c. 

6lh  Class.  —  Greco-Roman  period,  comprising  works  made 
by  Greeks  under  Roman  influence,  such  as  the  Toro  Farnese, 
the  Laocoon,  the  Knife-Grinder,  the  Augustus,  &c.,  <fcc. 

6th  Class.  —  Roman  works,  such  as  reliefs  from  the  Column 
of  Trajan  and  the  Arches  of  Titus  and  Septimius  Severus  and 
Constantine. 

1th  Class.  —  Supplementary,  composed  of  Egyptian,  As 
syrian,  and  Etruscan  works,  important  for  the  comparative 
study  of  styles  and  schools,  as  bearing  upon  the  development 
of  Greek  art. 

It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  a  complete  collection  of 
casts  comprehending  all  Greek  works  known  to  us  by  origi 
nals  or  through  copies  would  be  very  much  more  extensive 
than  this,  which  is  hardly  more  than  typical.  By  typical; 
we  mean  composed  of  such  works  as  give  a  sufficient  idea  of 
the  style  of  an  epoch  which,  reduced  to  a  minimum,  could  be 
illustrated  by  an  architectural  fragment  (be  it  cornice,  capital, 
or  frieze),  a  bas-relief,  a  statue,  a  bust,  and  a  certain  number  of 
coins  and  inscriptions. 

In  an  American  museum  we  should  have  examples  of  archi 
tecture,  sculpture,  coinage,  and  palaeography,  in  ancient  and 
modern  times,  from  the  Pyramids,  B.  C.  4235,  down  to  A.  D. 
1700.  The  ancient  world  of  art  should  be  represented  by 
casts  of  works  from  Egypt,  India,  Persia,  Phoenicia,  Assyria, 
Asia  Minor,  Greece,  and  the  Greek  islands,  Etruria,  Rome  and 
her  colonies,  as  also  of  those  produced  by  the  Teutonic,  Celtic, 
Scandinavian,  and  Gallic  races ;  the  mediaeval  and  modern 
world  by  casts  of  art  works  in  Italy,  France,  Germany,  and 
England.  Of  architecture  in  these  four  countries  we  should 
have  casts  from  parts  of  Gothic  and  Rennaissance  buildings 
down  to  Palladio's  time  ;  of  sculpture,  casts  of  Italian  works 
as  late  as  John  of  Bologna ;  of  French  down  to  Jean  Goujon  ; 
of  German  to  Peter  Vischer  and  Adam  Krafts  ;  and  of  English 
to  the  end  of  the  Gothic  period. 

The  great  European  collections  furnish  us  with  examples  of 
the  best  modes  of  lighting,  placing,  and  classifying  casts.  The 
two  largest  are  at  Berlin  in  the  New  Museum,  and  at  Paris 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  13 

in  the  £cole  des  Beaux  Arts;  the  best  arranged  is  that  at 
Dresden. 

The  Berlin  casts  completely  fill  the  first  story  of  the  New 
Museum,  with  the  exception  of  the  great  hall  in  the  centre  of 
the  building.  They  comprehend  an  immense  number  of  an 
tique  and  medieval  works  which,  if  arranged  chronologically, 
would  constitute  an  almost  perfect  model  for  an  American 
museum  of  the  same  kind.  The  catalogue,  which  is  well  enti 
tled  by  its  author,  Dr.  Friedrichs,  Ba-usteine  zur  geschichte 
der  griechish-romischen  Plastik,  contains  the  names  of  about 
one  thousand  antique  works,  with  a  short  historical,  archae 
ological,  and  critical  notice  of  each,  forming  a  history  of 
Greek  and  Greco-Roman  sculpture  of  the  most  instructive 
kind. 

The  Dresden  collection,  though  much  smaller  and  far  less 
comprehensive,  as  it  contains  only  casts  from  the  antique,  af 
fords  better  opportunity  for  study  because  its  arrangement  is 
chronological.  In  the  Preface  of  its  excellent  catalogue  the 
director,  Dr.  Hettner,  truly  says  "  that  he  who  wanders  from 
statue  to  statue  follows  the  history  of  sculpture  from  its  be 
ginnings.  He  passes  from  Assyrian,  Egyptian,  and  Etrus 
can  sculptures  to  early  Greek  works  ;  then  comes  to  those 
which  illustrate  the  acme  of  the  art  in  the  age  of  Pericles, 
sees  the  first  signs  of  decay  in  the  still  splendid  productions 
of  the  Macedonian  epoch,  and  its  consequences  in  the  Greco- 
Roman  decadence."  Thus  sculpture  may  be  studied  histori 
cally,  archaeologically,  mythologically,  and  artistically,  with 
profit  and  pleasure  in  proportion  to  the  knowledge  and  taste  of 
the  visitor. 

Neither  at  Berlin  nor  at  Dresden  are  there  any  architectural 
casts,  and  in  this  respect  the  collection  of  the  Ecole  des  Beaux 
Arts  at  Paris  surpasses  its  rivals,  as  also  in  that  it  contains 
many  casts  of  early  Greek  works  not  known  out  of  Athens. 
The  architectural  casts  of  the  same  size  as  the  originals  pro 
duce  an  admirable  effect ;  among  them  are  the  portico  of  the 
Pandroseion,  with  the  cornice,  the  base,  and  the  four  Caryatides, 
and  the  whole  of  the  Choragic  monument  of  Lysicrates.  When 
this  collection,  which  has  lately  been  greatly  enriched  by  a  series 
of  casts  brought  together  by  M.  Ravaisson,  is  catalogued  and 


14  American  Art  Museums,  [July? 

placed  chronologically  it  will  undoubtedly  stand  at  the  head  of 
all  others,  and  the  effect  produced  by  the  casts  placed  in  the 
great  central  hall,  which  is  of  immense  height  and  lighted 
from  above,  will  be  in  every  respect  admirable. 

We  may  here  remark  that  a  vertical  light,  unless  it  fall 
from  a  great  height  into  a  court  of  very  exceptional  size,  is 
less  favorable  for  the  display  of  casts  than  an  upper  side  light, 
by  which  in  a  long,  low  gallery  the  light  is  more  equally  dif 
fused.  The  color  of  the  walls  should  be  a  warm  gray,  into 
which  the  outlines  of  the  casts  will  melt  softly  away.  Pom- 
peian  red,  which  is  the  most  agreeable  of  all  hues  as  a  back 
ground  to  pictures,  forms  too  sharp  a  contrast  with  the  crude 
white  of  a  plaster  cast.  This  should  be  toned  down  by  any  of 
the  substances  employed  by  plaster  casters,  except  paint,  which 
masks  the  delicate  shades  of  modelling,  and  destroys  all  sharp 
ness  of  detail.  Linseed  oil  very  much  boiled  down  hardens 
plaster,  and  gives  it  a  golden  tone  somewhat  like  that  of  old 
Attic  marbles  long  exposed  to  the  sun  and  air.  A  preparation 
of  stearine  is  also  excellent  for  this  purpose,  being  perfectly 
transparent,  and  like  linseed  oil  allowing  the  cast  to  be  washed 
without  injury. 

The  sculpture  galleries  at  Berlin  and  Dresden,  which  are  very 
inferior  to  those  at  Paris  and  London,  needed  to  be  supplement 
ed  by  proportionately  large  and  comprehensive  collections  of 
casts.  Even  in  Paris,  where  the  Louvre  is  so  rich  in  original 
marbles  of  every  age  and  country,  a  student  of  art  has  con 
stant  occasion  to  visit  the  casts  at  the  ficole  des  Beaux  Arts 
in  order  to  trace  the  shades  of  progress  through  styles  and 
schools.  The  collection  of  casts  at  Sydenham  is  not  compar 
able  to  the  great  Continental  collections,  but  this  is  a  matter 
of  comparatively  little  importance,  considering  the  wonderful 
and  unrivalled  facilities  offered  in  the  galleries  of  the  British 
Museum  for  the  study  of  ancient  originals  in  every  form  of  art. 
For  mediaeval  works  the  student  must  betake  himself  to  South 
Kensington,  where  many  marbles  and  casts  of  great  interest 
are  collected. 

It  will  be  seen  that  no  one  of  the  museums  of  which  we  have 
been  speaking  offers  a  perfect  example  of  what  the  American 
museum  should  be.  Some  contain  only  casts  from  the  antique, 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  15 

others  only  casts  from  works  of  the  Middle  Ages.  Some 
are  without  architectural  casts,  inscriptions,  coins,  and  gems, 
and  this  because  they  are  generally  supplementary  to  galleries 
of  original  works.  As  we  have  none  of  these,  we  must  do 
wholly  what  European  governments  have  done  partially,  and 
make  up  in  completeness  for  our  poverty  in  other  respects. 
Nor  when  we  have  done  so  can  we  be  called  poor,  since  we 
shall  Jiave  what  we  need,  and  shall  have  shaped  our  desires  to 
attainable  objects.  "  Non  qui  parvum  habet  sed  qui  plus  cupit 
pauper  est." 

In  our  day  the  universal  aim  is  to  make  art  bear  upon  in 
dustry,  and  how  it  may  best  be  done  is  everywhere  the  object 
of  study.  In  England,  all*  over  Germany,  and  in  Russia,  mu 
seums  of  industrial  art  and  art  schools  have  been  founded, 
and  though  it  is  only  nineteen  years  since  England  took  the 
lead  in  this  great  movement,  the  most  astonishing  effects  have 
resulted,  and  France  trembles  lest  her  long-acknowledged  su 
periority  in  all  those  branches  of  industry  which  are  affected 
by  the  arts  of  design  should  soon  be  among  the  things  of 
the  past. 

A  late  French  writer,  in  speaking  of  the  inferiority  which 
ignorance  of  art  gives  to  the  products  of  a  nation,  points  out 
the  one  acknowledged  remedy,  namely,  the  intellectual  culti 
vation  of  the  workman-,  and  his  special  instruction  in  profes 
sional  schools  of  design.  This  conviction,  which  had  been 
forced  upon  public  attention  at  the  first  Great  Exhibition  in 
1851  by  the  manifest  inferiority  of  English  and  Continental  pro 
ducts  to  those  of  France,  led  to  the  foundation  by  Prince  Albert 
of  the  South  Kensington  Museum,  as  a  centre  of  education  in 
the  arts  of  design  for  teachers  and  pupils  throughout  the  whole 
kingdom.  Four  years  later  English  goods  were  signalized  in 
M.  du  Sommerard's  Report  to  the  French  Jury  "  as  worthy  of  the 
highest  praise  for  their  sobriety  of  ornament."  In  the  Report 
upon  the  Exhibition  held  at  Paris  in  1861,  M.  Merimee  stated 
that  "  English  industry  has  made  prodigious  strides  within  the 
last  ten  years,"  and  his  fellow-jurors  acknowledged  that  this 
progress  was  due  to  the  action  of  the  Kensington  Museum. 
They  furthermore  declared  that  if  France  would  keep  her 
place  at  the  head  of  other  nations  as  the  mistress  of  taste, 


16  American  Art  Museums.  [Jutyj 

the  system  of  instruction  hitherto  prevalent  in  the  schools  of 
design  at  Paris  must  be  completely  reorganized.  This  reor 
ganization  was  effected  in  1863,  when  there  were  only  three 
thousand  pupils  in  these  schools,  towards  whose  support  the 
city  contributed  three  thousand  francs  a  year ;  four  years  later 
the  number  of  students  had  increased  to  twelve  thousand,  and 
the  sum  contributed  to  three  hundred  and  twelve  thousand 
francs.  That  France  had  need  to  strain  every  nerve  in  the 
cause  cannot  be  doubted  in  face  of  the  fact  that,  owing  to 
the  improvement  of  taste  in  the  manufacture  of  earthenware, 
porcelain,  glass,  and  carpets,  the  export  trade  of  England  in 
these  objects  had  increased  to  the  amount  of  seventy  millions 
of  .dollars  between  1855  and  1866.  • 

As  our  object  in  this  article  is  to  give  such  information  upon 
the  subject  of  museums  as  may  be  useful  to  those  who  are 
called  upon  to  organize  similar  institutions  in  this  country, 
we  shall  now  proceed  to  give  some  account  of  the  organi 
zation  and  aims  of  the  most  remarkable  European  examples, 
as  well  as  of  the  character  of  the  objects  with  which  they  are 
filled. 

To  begin  with  the  South  Kensington  Museum,  which  is  the 
prototype  of  the  Continental  museums,  and  the  model  upon 
which  most  of  them  have  been  formed. 

An  annual  sum,  which  last  year  amounted  to  fifty  thou 
sand  pounds,  is  voted  by  Parliament  for  the  support  of  this 
institution,  and  administered  by  the  Minister  of  Science  and 
Art,  with  the  advice  of  a  Committee  of  the  Council  of  Educa 
tion.  The  chief  officers  of  the  Council  are  a  President,  a  Vice- 
President,  a  Secretary  in  chief,  and  a  Director.  There  are  also 
general  inspectors  connected  with  the  Museum,  as  well  as  exam 
iners  of  different  grades,  professors  of  both  sexes  to  teach  me 
chanical  and  architectural  drawing,  perspective,  ornamental  and 
figure  drawing,  anatomy,  modelling,  etching,  mosaic,  &c.,  &c., 
and  agents  for  the  sale  of  models.  Gratuitous  instruction 
is  given,  and  in  some  cases  pupils  are  even  paid  for  their 
attendance  upon  courses  of  teaching.  Examinations  are  held 
and  followed  by  the  distribution  of  recompenses,  diplomas,  and 
dotations.  Encouragement  is  also  given  to  the  formation  of 
schools  of  art  in  cities,  towns,  and  villages  throughout  the 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  17 

United  Kingdom,  on  the  single  condition  that  they  shall  sub 
mit  to  the  occasional  visits  of  inspectors  and  examiners  sent  by 
the  Science  and  Art  Department,  and  larger  or  smaller  sub 
ventions  are  given  according  to  the  progress  made  by  the 
pupils.  Ambulatory  collections,  composed  of  reproductions  of 
statues,  drawings,  and  enamels,  and  of  engravings  and  photo 
graphs,  together  with  circulating  libraries  of  books  calculated 
to  develop  the  taste  and  knowledge  of  artisans,  are  sent  from 
Kensington  to  towns  which  would  otherwise  be  out  of  the  reach 
of  works  of  art.  The  professors  are  educated  in  the  National 
Art  Training  School  at  Kensington,  for  side  by  side  with  the 
most  elementary  instruction  superior  instruction  is  also  given. 
After  submitting  to  certain  examinations  they  receive  a  cer 
tificate  of  the  second  or  third  Grade  from  the  Science  and  Art 
Department. 

The  Committee  subsidizes  instruction  in  elementary  drawing 
in  the  schools  for  poor  children,  as  well  as  in  special  schools, 
in  its  own  Normal  School,  and  in  gratuitous  night  classes  for 
artisans.  It  gives  fifty  per  cent  upon  the  cost  of  models  for  art 
schools,  and  pays  about  fifteen  shillings  a  head  towards  the 
instruction  of  beginners,  which  sum  is  doubled  to  those  who 
profit  by  it,  and  tripled  to  those  who  pass  a  good  examina 
tion.  If  "the  artisan  has  paid  for  instruction,  he  receives  from 
the  Committee  the  sum  of  ten  shillings  for  every  drawing  exe 
cuted  within  a  fixed  time  and  favorably  reported.  After  four 
examinations  he  gets  a  diploma  of  the  second  degree,  and  is 
allowed  to  teach  in  the  poor  and  night  schools.  Every  pupil 
who  executes  a  good  drawing  of  a  useful  or  ornamental  object 
in  the  school  within  the  year  receives  a  prize  of  sixteen  shil 
lings.  Once  a  year  a  national  competition,  in  which  all  the 
schools  in  the  kingdom  take  part,  is  organized  at  South  Ken 
sington.  Ten  medals  of  gold,  twenty  of  silver,  and  fifty  of 
bronze  are  distributed  among  the  authors  of  the  best  drawings, 
and  pensions  from  the  Princess  of  Wales'  Fund  are  given  to 
the  two  best  female  pupils. 

The  Museum  is  so  well  known  to  the  American  public, 
through  the  many  descriptions  that  have  been  given  of  it,  that 
it  will  not  be  necessary  to  enter  here  into  any  minute  account 
of  it.  Its  able  Director,  Mr.  Cole,  in  an  introductory  address 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  2 


18  American  Art  Museums. 

delivered  thirteen  years  ago,  happily  characterized  it  as  "  a  book 
with  its  pages  always  open."  "  By  the  system  of  labelling,"  he 
says,  "  everything  has  been  made  instructive,  and  what  would 
have  been  otherwise  passed  unheeded  or  despised  has  become 
a  subject  of  interest.  Thanks  to  this  system,  the  poor  man  is 
not  obliged  to  provide  himself  with  catalogues  in  order  to 
understand  what  he  is  looking  at." 

The  living  organism  of  which  we  have  been  speaking  is 
indeed  a  wonderful  creation.  We  say  "  living  "  with  intention, 
for  when  there  we  see  its  directly  productive  'agency  in  the 
frescos  and  mosaics  by  English  artists  which  decorate  its  inner 
walls,  and  in  the  terra-cotta  ornaments  with  which  its  facade 
is  enriched.  We  see,  in  short,  the  seed,  the  tree,  the  flower, 
and  the  fruit.  Year  by  year  it  grows  with  fabulous  rapidity, 
for  it  is  constantly  receiving  into  its  ever-increasing  area  new 
treasures  of  art,  either  on  loan  or  through  purchase,  all  of 
which  when  multiplied  by  the  many  processes  of  reproduction, 
are  sent  forth  in  plaster,  electrotype,  or  photograph,  to  enrich 
the  minds  and  cultivate  the  tastes  of  men  who  might  else 
have  remained  ignorant  of  beauty  as  revealed  in  art.  Nobly 
planned  and  wisely  carried  out,  it  stands  the  worthiest  of 
monuments  to  the  high-minded  Prince  who  founded  it,  and 
when  time  shall  have  done  its  work  upon  all  other  Albert 
memorials,  will  still  remind  the  English  people  of  his  many 
claims  to  their  grateful  remembrance.  The  fruits  of  the  initia 
tory  step  which  he  there  took  are  also  found  in  every  part  of 
the  Continent.  The  Exhibition  of  1862,  and  the  Great  Exhibi 
tion  of  1867,  which  brought  the  products  of  all  nations  face 
to  face,  and  gauged  their  relative  value,  taught  the  Continental 
nations  the  important  lesson  that  institutions  like  the  Ken 
sington  Museum  have  power  to  bring  industry  up  to  a  high 
artistic  level.  France,  which  had  opened  gratuitous  schools  of 
design  nearly  a  century  before  England,  felt  compelled  in  self- 
defence  to  reorganize  them  completely,  and  many  leading 
manufacturers,  artists,  and  connoisseurs  were  induced  to  found 
the  Central  Union  of  Fine  Arts  applied  to  Industry.  This 
institution  is  not  an  acknowledged  agency  for  the  develop 
ment  of  industrial  art  through  schools  of  design  throughout 
the  empire,  and  exercises  no  supervision  over  those  superior 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  19 

and  professional  schools  at  Lyons,  Mulhouse,  St.  Etienne, 
Rheinis,  and  Limoges,  whose  aim  is  to  influence  certain  spe 
cial  fabrications.  It  operates  indirectly,  nevertheless,  upon 
the  whole  country  by  periodical  exhibitions,  which  are  of  two 
kinds ;  the  first  consisting  of  premiated  productions  of  the 
chief  schools  of  design  in  Paris  and  the  departments,  and  of 
articles  of  modern  manufacture  which  directly  illustrate  the 
effect  already  produced  by  foreign  art  upon  native  industry ; 
the  second,  of  works  of  art  borrowed  from  private  collections ; 
of  this  kind  was  the  splendid  Oriental  Museum  opened  for  a 
short  time  last  autumn  in  the  "  Palais  de  1'Industrie,"  where 
eight  great  galleries  were  filled  with  the  choicest  specimens 
of  Chinese,  Japanese,  Indian,  and  Persian  art  and  manufac 
ture. 

We  note  among  the  last  items  of  art  news  from  Paris,  that 
the  "  Union  Centrale  "  now  proposes  to  further  the  cause  of 
industrial  art  by  public  lectures,  courses  of  study,  publica 
tions,  prizes,  international  exhibitions,  and  by  aiding  provin 
cial  committees  in  the  organization  of  exhibitions.  During 
the  above-mentioned  Oriental  Exhibition  it  organized  an  In 
ternational  Congress,  which  passed  several  important  resolu 
tions  concerning  public  instruction  in  the  arts  of  design.  One 
among  these  aims  at  making  preparatory  studies  in  drawing  a 
part  of  primary  instruction,  and  drawing  obligatory  in  the 
public  schools;  another  at  developing  the  sentiment  of  art 
through  the  formation  of  educational  museums  in  cities,  towns, 
and  villages,  and  the  establishment  of  Normal  Schools  in 
which  professors  could  be  formed. 

The  need  of  some  such  body  as  the  English  Science  and  Art 
Department,  charged  to  recognize  and  reward  provincial  schools 
and  to  impose  a  system  of  instruction,  has  been  also  felt  in  Ger 
many,  and  shows  itself  there  amongst  other  ways  in  the  dis 
agreement  between  professors  as  to  the  best  methods  of  instruc 
tion,  and  in  the  consequent  substitution  of  personal  systems. 
Thus  in  one  school  the  graphic  model  is  esteemed,  in  another 
pupils  are  allowed  to  draw  only  from  the  round  and  to  model 
after  drawings.  The  system  set  forth  in  the  programme  of  the 
Paris  International  Committee  is,  that  the  young  pupil  should 
learn  the  alphabet  of  forms  from  elementary  geometrical  mod- 


20  American  Art  Museums.  [July* 

els,  and  from  the  most  simple  and  common  objects  ;  that  oral 
explanation  by  trained  professors  should  be  given,  and  that 
the  reduction  or  amplification  of  the  model  (i.  e.  f  interpret** 
tion  raisonee),  drawing  from  memory,  and  facultative  choice 
of  means  of  execution,  should  take  the  place  of  a  servile  and 
textual  imitation  of  the  graphic  model.  The  Committee  also 
wisely  deprecated  the  copying  of  engravings  or  lithographs,  as 
likely  to  lead  the  pupil  to  the  study  of  picturesque  effect,  that 
is,  the  accidental  character,  rather  than  to  that  of  form,  which 
is  the  permanent  character.  At  Molenbeck  Saint  Jean,  a  sub 
urb  of  Brussels,  there  is  a  school  frequented  by  three  hundred 
artisans,  who  begin  by  drawing  for  several  months  upon  the 
blackboard.  When  they  have  learnt  to  draw  in  a  broad  style 
without  consideration  of  detail,  they  are  allowed  to  use  paper. 
The  great  object  to  be  attained  is  to  educate  the  eye,  to  train 
the  hand,  and  to  strengthen  the  memory.  Where  primary  in 
struction  is  concerned,  we  know  of  no  better  system  than  that 
of  Professor  Louis  Bail,  of  the  Scientific  School  at  New  Haven, 
whose  drawing  charts  carry  the  pupil  on  from  the  dot  and  the 
straight  line  to  complicated  forms  of  ornament,  teaching  him 
to  measure  correctly  by  his  eye  whatever  object  is  placed  be-- 
fore  him,  and  requiring  him  to  reproduce  it  again  by  memory 
when  it  has  been  removed. 

The  country  where  the  South  Kensington  model  has  been 
most  directly  imitated  is  Austria,  once  the  land  of  everything 
retrograde,  and  now  in  the  vanguard  of  progress,  as  she  has 
proved  in  regard  to  the  cause  of  industrial  art,  by  making 
drawing  obligatory  in  all  her  public  schools  and  by  creating  a 
People's  Museum  at  Vienna.  It  was  at  the  Exhibition  of  1862 
that  Austria  perceived  her  weakness  and  learnt  the  remedy 
for  it.  The  report  made  by  M.  d'Eitelbergher,  her  commis 
sioner  to  England,  and  his  articles  in  the  leading  journals  im 
mediately  awakened  public  attention,  impressed  all  classes 
with  the  necessity  for  active  measures,  and  induced  the  Em 
peror,  on  the  7th  of  March  of  the  following  year,  to  decree  the 
formation  of  a  Museum  of  Industrial  Art. 

As  no  building  fit  for  the  purpose  then  existed,  his  Majesty 
placed  a  portion  of  the  Imperial  "  Ball  Haus"  at  the  disposal 
of  the  Provisional  Committee.  Three  rooms  on  the  ground- 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  21 

floor  were  appropriated  to  contain  the  objects  loaned  by  the 
Emperor  and  by  public  institutions,  together  with  those  pur 
chased  ;  a  fourth  was  reserved  for  a  library,  and  a  fifth  for 
readers  and  draughtsmen.  Photographic  and  modelling  stu 
dios  were  established  on  the  first  story.  Since  the  21st  of 
May,  1864,  when  the  public  was  first  allowed  to  avail  itself  of 
these  new  sources  of  pleasure  and  instruction,  the  collections 
have  increased  out  of  all  proportion  with  their  temporary  place 
of  deposit,  and  their  importance  will  not  be  fully  estimated 
until  they  are  removed  to  a  new  and  splendid  building,  which 
will  be  ready  to  receive  them  in  the  spring  of  1871.  Among 
the  permanent  objects  now  exhibited  are  a  portion  of  the  Bock 
collection  of  textile  fabrics  illustrating  the  history  of  weaving 
from  the  seventh  century  up  to  the  present  time ;  the  Fried- 
land  collection  of  French  faiences  dating  from  the  seventeenth 
century  ;  two  hundred  vases  found  in  the  Necropolis  at  Caere  ; 
twelve  hundred  fragments  of  ancient  glass,  and  a  large  num 
ber  of  Venetian  and  German  glasses,  from  the  sixteenth  to  the 
eighteenth  century.  There  are  also  many  Limoges  and  Chi 
nese  enamels,  Oriental  arms,  &c.  The  objects  exhibited  in  the 
Loan  Museum  are  retained  for  six  weeks,  a  portion  being  re 
moved  from  it  at  the  end  of  each  week.  While  they  remain 
there  they  are  grouped  together  so  as  to  illustrate  as  far  as  pos 
sible  phases  and  schools  of  art.  But  what  concerns  us  most  in 
the  matter  is  the  excellent  practice  of  the  directors  to  have  all 
these  loaned  objects  reproduced,  together  with  those  in  the  per 
manent  collections,  in  order  to  make  them  universally  useful 
through  ambulatory  museums  which  are  sent  to  different  parts 
of  the  empire,  together  with  books  upon  decorative  art.  These 
are  features  directly  borrowed  from  the  Kensington  Museum, 
which  the  Austrian  also  imitates  in  keeping  up  a  general  super 
vision  over  provincial  schools  of  art.  The  Vienna  Museum  is 
administered  by  a  protector,  a  council,  and  a  director.  The 
protector  names  the  members  of  the  council  out  of  all  classes 
of  amateurs.  The  council  forms  plans  for  the  development  of 
the  museum,  and  gives  advice  to  the  director  concerning  pur 
chases  for  It,  &c.,  <fec.,  without  fettering  him  in  its  immediate 
administration. 

The  Museum  at  Moscow  is,  like  that  at  Vienna,  a  child  ovf 


American  Art  Museums.  [July, 

the  Exhibition  of  1862.  It  was  projected  in  the  same  year, 
decreed  by  the  Emperor  two  years  later,  and  inaugurated  in 
April,  1868.  We  learn  from  an  article  by  M.  Natalis  Rondot 
to  the  Revue  des  Deux  Monde  s,  that  it  was  established  on 
the  plan  which  he  had  traced  some  years  earlier  for  an  indus 
trial  museum  at  Lyons.  Its  aims  are  analogous  to  those  of 
the  institutions  of  which  we  have  already  spoken.  One  of 
its  most  interesting  and  peculiar  features  is  a  collection  of 
old  Russian  objects  of  art,  the  greater  part  of  which  have 
been  reproduced  by  casts  and  drawings,  and  explained  by  M. 
de  Boutowski,  Councillor  of  State  and  Director  of  the  Strogo- 
noff  School,  in  his  grammar  and  history  of  Russian  ornament, 
which,  according  to  M.  Rondot,  "  springs  from  two  different 
sources,  the  one  national  and  invariable,  the  other  western, 
that  is,  French  or  German,  and  consequently  unstable  and 
subject  to  the  caprices  of  fashion.  Old  Russian  art,  which  has 
certain  analogies  with  Byzantine  and  with  Asiatic  art,  is  origi 
nal  and  little  known  in  Europe." 

The  Museum  at  Moscow  is  divided  into  three  departments, 
—  Art  proper,  Industry,  and  History.  The  Art  Department  is 
filled  with  copies  of  the  finest  works,  classed  by  nations  and 
epochs,  chosen  with  a  view  to  show  the  style  and  system  of 
ornament  of  each  nation  and  period  in  what  it  has  produced 
of  the  best  quality. 

The  Industrial  Department  is  divided  into  three  sections ; 
the  first  is  consecrated  to  artistic  industries,  sculpture  upon 
wood,  ivory,  and  stone,  goldsmiths'  work,  pottery,  enamel,  fur 
niture,  &c.,&c. ;  the  second  to  stuffs  and  fabrics,  and  the  third 
to  machines.  Each  section  is  subdivided  into  ancient  products 
and  modern  products. 

The  Historical  Department  offers  examples  of  Russian  orna 
ment  from  the  tenth  to  the  eighteenth  century  ;  some  are  repro 
duced  by  casts  or  galvano-plastic,  others  by  colored  draw 
ings,  engravings,  and  photographs  of  manuscripts,  enamels, 
"  nielli,"  personal  ornaments,  cups,  plates,  arms,  trappings, 
stuffs,  and  furniture,  as  also  of  reliquaries,  vestments,  and  vases 
for  church  services,  taken  from  the  originals  preserved  in  the 
ancient  cathedrals  of  Vladimir,  Novgorod,  and  Souzdal.  T^e 
collections  have  been  increased  by  purchases  made  in  all  parts 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  23 

of  Europe  and  by  donations,  of  great  value.  The  Museum 
possesses  a  valuable  library  of  books  upon  ornamental  art,  a 
cabinet  of  drawings  and  engravings,  and  collections  of  flowers, 
plants,  birds,  and  insects,  remarkable  for  beauty  of  form  or  color. 
This  latter  feature  is,  so  far  as  we  know,  peculiar,  and  assuredly 
very  worthy  of  imitation  in  museums  which  aim  at  developing 
taste  in  industrial  art.  From  the  nature  of  the  country  to  which 
it  belongs,  the  Moscow  Museum  is  limited  in  its  action.  Am 
bulatory  exhibitions,  circulating  libraries,  and  dependent  in 
dustrial  schools  are  well  adapted  to  England  and  Austria, 
but  not  at  all  suited  to  such  half-civilized  countries  as  Russia. 
For  other  reasons  these  features  have  not  been  adopted  by 
the  administrators  of  the  National  Museum  at  Munich  and 
the  German  Museum  at  Nuremberg.  The  industrial  schools  at 
Munich  are  preparatory  for  admission  to  the  Munich  Academy, 
and,  like  the  famous  Kreling  school  at  Nuremberg,  are  quite 
independent  of  the  Museum.  While  the  Austrian  Museum  ac 
knowledges  the  common  origin  of  the  fine  and  the  industrial 
arts,  and  thus  proclaims  the  unity  of  art,  it  separates  general 
and  special  instruction,  considering  the  first  to  be  sufficient  for 
artisans  and  the  public,  and  the  second,  that  is,  a  more  com 
plete  and  higher  system  of  training,  to  be  necessary  for  those 
who  aim  at  invention.  In  Bavaria,  on  the  contrary,  says  M. 
Muntz,  the  aim  of  the  industrial  pupils  "  is  rather .  to  invent 
and  create  new  forms  than  to  gain  inspiration  from  the  master 
pieces  of  the  past." 

The  Bavarian  museums  are  both  historical ;  that  at  Munich 
illustrates  the  arts,  manners,  and  customs  of  Bavaria,  that  at 
Nuremberg  those  of  all  Germany.  The  first,  which  was  pro 
jected  in  1853  by  M.  d'Aretin,  the  eminent  historian  and 
archaeologist  who  devoted  the  last  thirteen  years  of  his  life 
to  its  formation,  was  to  have  been  named  the  Wittelbach 
Museum,  but  as  the  king  desired  that  it  should  not  be  confined 
to  antiquities  connected  with  the  royal  house,  it  was  called  the 
National  Bavarian  Museum,  in  order  more  clearly  to  indicate 
its  universal  character.  All  objects  not  absolutely  needed  for 
the  use  of  the  court  were  removed  to  it  from  the  royal  castles ; 
original  monuments  were  bought  up  throughout  the  kingdom, 
and  where  these  were  not  to  be  obtained  casts  were  taken  of 


24  American  Art  Museums. 

them,  that  the  chain  of  illustration  might  be  complete.  Begin 
ning  with  Roman  antiquities,  such  as  a  mosaic  pavement,  mile 
stones,  "  cippi,"  altars  and  terra-cotta  lamps  found  in  Bavaria, 
the  visitor  passes  on  to  the  Celtic  and  Carlovingian  remains, 
weapons  and  household  articles  of  the  bronze  period,  gold  and 
silver  ornaments  found  in  tombs,  ivory  caskets,  fragments  of 
glass,  and  figures  of  saints  and  symbolic  animals  in  wood  and 
stone.  He  then  visits  the  Romanesque  department,  where 
reliquaries,  ivory  caskets,  crucifixes,  ecclesiastical  vestments, 
such  as  the  splendid  Da'lmatica  of  the  Emperor  Henry  II. 
(formerly  at  Bamberg),  statues  and  fragments  from  Wesso- 
brunn,  illuminated  manuscripts,  and  some  Byzantine  paintings 
of  the  twelfth  or  thirteenth  century  (given  to  the  Crown  Prince 
Maximilian  by  the  Patriarch  of  Constantinople),  are  collected. 
In  the  Gothic  division,  which  is  extremely  rich  in  all  sorts  of 
works  in  stone,  metal,  and  ivory,  he  will  not  fail  to  admire  the 
stained  glass  windows,  upon  one  of  which,  from  the  monastery 
of  Seligenthal  at  Landshut,  the  donatrix,  Elizabeth  of  Bavaria 
(who  died  there  "  in  the  odor  of  sanctity,"  A.  D.  1314),  is 
represented  with  Saints  Andrew  and  John.  In  the  upper 
story  he  will  find  carved  ceilings  of  great  beauty,  especially 
that  from  the  Town  Hall  of  Augsburg,  built  in  1385,  and 
an  immense  collection  of  suits  of  armor,  pieces  of  furniture, 
weapons,  portraits  of  celebrated  personages,  besides  divers 
objects  of  artistic  and  historical  interest  belonging  to  the 
Renaissance  epoch.  Lastly,  if  he  desire  to  study  history  in 
pictorial  illustrations,  he  can  wander  through  the  long  suite  of 
rooms  upon  the  first  floor,  where  the  walls  are  covered  with 
modern  paintings  representing  all  the  most  remarkable  events 
which  have  occurred  in  this  small  kingdom  whose  capital, 
through  the  cultivated  taste  and  enlightened  connoisseurship  of 
the  late  King  Louis,  has  now  become  one  of  the  most  noted 
places  of  resort  for  lovers  of  art  in  Europe.  At  Munich,  every 
thing  was  to  be  done  when  he  ascended  the  throne,  and  upon 
his  abdication,  like  another  Augustus,  he  left  a  city  of  marble 
where  he  had  found  one  of  brick. 

Unlike  Munich,  Nuremberg  needed  no  princely  patron  to 
make  it  a  museum  of  art.  The  builders,  carvers,  and  artists 
of  the  Middle  Ages  had  fashioned  the  quaint  old  home  of  Al- 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  25 

bert  Diirer  and  Peter  Vischer,  and  here  the  king's,  task  was  to 
preserve  existing  monuments  from  destruction,  not  to  create 
new  ones.  One  more  source  of  attraction  was,  however,  to  be 
added  to  the  already  richly  endowed  city.  At  the  Archaeolog 
ical  Congress  held  at  Dresden  in  1852,  the  Baron  d'Aufsess 
exposed  his  long-cherished  scheme  of  establishing  a  collection 
of  material  relating  to  German  history,  literature,  and  the  fine 
arts,  from  the  earliest  times  down  to  the  middle  of  the  seven 
teenth  century,  including  an  archaeological  and  artistic  library, 
and  of  rendering  these  treasures  useful  by  publications,  man 
uals,  and  other  means.  He  offered  to  loan  his  own  vast 
collections  to  the  museum  for  a  period  of  ten  years.  This 
noble  project  was  received  with  enthusiasm,  and  Nuremberg 
was  selected  as  the  city  in  which  it  should  be  carried  out. 
The  next  year  Bavaria  approved  the  resolution,  and  the  Diet 
at  Frankfort  decreed  that  the  museum  should  be  called  u  Na 
tional."  Four  years  after  its  foundation  it  had  become  so 
prosperous,  through  the  liberal  gifts  of  King  Louis  and  the 
kings  of  Bavaria  and  Prussia,  that  its  directors  were  enabled 
to  purchase  the  noble  old  Carthusian  convent,  where  its  collec 
tions,  including  those  purchased  from  Baron  d'Aufsess  in  1864, 
are  now  arranged.  Here  are  pictures,  engravings,  tissues,  fair 
ences,  goldsmiths'  work,  medals  and  seals,  the  most  remark 
able  of  which  have  been  reproduced  in  a  series  of  drawings, 
photographs,  and  engravings,  already  100,000  in  number ; 
60,000  tracings  and  drawings  illustrate  secondary  classes  of 
art  (as,  for  instance,  all  forms  of  the  bed  from  Roman  times  to 
the  present  day),  and  the  history  of  eminent  persons  is  followed 
up  through  portraits,  coats  of  arms,  seals,  and  medals.  At 
present  such  laudable  enterprises  are  subordinate  to  the  pur 
chase  of  the  masterpieces  of  the  past,  which  are  becoming 
more  and  more  rare.  The  directors  wisely  spend  their  avail 
able  funds  in  this  way,  because  they  know,  to  borrow  the  words 
of  M.  Muntz,  that  when  America  shall  enter  into  the  lists,  they 
will  no  longer  have  the  opportunity. 

This  reflection  is  one  which,  as  Hamlet  says,  "should  give 
us  pause,"  at  least  long  enough  to  express  the  hope  that  Amer 
ica  will  not  wait  until  Europe  shall  have  gathered  all  the  har 
vest  of  the  past  into  her  museums.  It  strikes  us  the  more, 


26  American  Art  Museums.  [July? 

because  we  have  lately  met  with  it  elsewhere  even  more  forcibly 
expressed.  As,  for  example,  in  the  Chronique  des  Arts,  which 
counsels  France  to  secure  all  French  masterpieces  for  her 
'  national  and  municipal  museums  before  America,  recognizing 
the  necessity  of  forming  museums,  shall  compete  for  them  and 
increase  their  already  enormous  value.  "  The  day  cannot  be 
far  distant,"  says  the  writer,  "  when  the  United  States  will  de 
sire  to  form  collections,  for  it  is  impossible  to  admit  that  so 
intelligent  a  people  can  long  continue  to  ignore  the  fact  that 
the  fine  arts  make  men  moral  by  raising  them  to  a  compre 
hension  of  the  beautiful,  and  that  they  increase  the  wealth  of 
nations  by  developing  good  taste  in  their  artisans." 

Accustomed  to  a  central  authority  which  has  the  power  to 
lead,  decree,  and  foster  such  institutions,  we  cannot  wonder 
that  Europeans  are  unable  to  comprehend  our  backwardness  in 
imitating  their  example.  They  forget  that  individual  exertion 
must  here  take  the  place  of  government  action  ;  that  the  will 
of  many  must  be  first  influenced  instead  of  the  will  of  one,  and 
that  when  this  is  accomplished  we  have  no  palaces  and  castles 
to  supply  us  with  works  of  art.  They  do  not  recognize  that 
we  are  called  upon  to  solve  a  new  problem,  and  to  discover 
some  way  of  overcoming  the  obstacles  which  are  created  by 
our  position. 

The  history  of  many  ancient  and  mediaeval  cities  governed 
by  democratic  forms,  and  actively  engaged  in  commercial  pur 
suits,  proves  that  these  are  compatible  with  the  utmost  splen 
dor  of  art  attainment.  Athens,  Argos,  and  Samos  in  anti 
quity,  Florence,  Venice,  and  Genoa  in  the  Middle  Ages,  were 
all  commercial  and  all  republican.  They  were  led  by  men  who 
gave  the  impulse  to  popular  taste  and  fostered  its  growth ; 
Pericles  made  Athens  the  artistic  glory  of  Greece,  and  Cosmo 
de'  Medici  decked  Florence  with  art's  brightest  jewels.  Being 
themselves  monarchs  in  disguise,  they  formed  a  radiating 
centre  which  illuminated  the  whole  body  politic  in  matters  to 
which  democracy  and  trade  are  necessarily  indifferent.  In 
avowed  monarchies  we  find  always  the  same  cause  of  artistic  life 
or  death ;  namely,  the  presence  or  absence  of  a  central  direct 
ing  spirit,  whether  inspired  by  selfish  motives,  and  patronizing 
art  to  enhance  the  splendor  of  a  reign,  or  by  noble  motives, 


1870.]  American  Art  Museums.  27 

with  that  it  is  one  of  the  most  elevating  and  civilizing  influ 
ences  which  can  be  brought  to  bear  upon  a  people.  In  either 
case  the  leader  must  impose  it  upon  his  subjects  until  they 
have  learned  to  love  it,  an4  can  no  longer  exist  without  it. 
Munich  would  still  be  the  insignificant  and  unattractive  capital 
of  a  second-rate  European  kingdom,  had  not  King  Louis  been 
filled  with  an  enthusiastic  love  of  art,  and  a  consequent  deter 
mination  to  make  it  one  of  the  richest  centres  of  art  upon  the 
Continent.  While  still  Crown  Prince  of  Bavaria  he  employed 
agents  to  point  out  and  obtain  for  him  all  available  mas 
terpieces,  and  thus  the  marbles  from  ^Egina,  the  Barberini 
Faun,  and  many  other  treasures  found  their  way  to  the  Glyp- 
tothek  instead  of  to  the  British  Museum.  So  also  in  Eng 
land  all  the  growth  of  industrial  art  may  be  traced  back  to 
the  action  of  Prince  Albert.  So  also  the  power  vested  in 
the  Emperors  of  Russia  and  Austria,  and  the  King  of  Bavaria, 
has  been  made  use  of  by  enlightened  men  in  their  domin 
ions  to  create  the  new  museums  of  which  we  have  spoken 
in  these  pages. 

But  where  are  Americans  to  find  a  substitute  for  this  appar 
ently  necessary  centre  of  action  ?  This  is  a  question  which 
we  have  not  hitherto  been  called  upon  to  answer,  and  which 
demands  our  gravest  consideration.  We  cannot  hope  to  find 
it  at  Washington,  nor  in  our  State  governments  (though  these 
may  eventually  aid  us  by  making  the  study  of  drawing  obliga 
tory  in  the  public  schools),  nor  can  we  look  for  it  in  unassisted 
individual  action,  which  must  be  limited  and  comparatively 
feeble.  Our  only  hope  lies  in  the  stronger  action  of  universi 
ties  and  educational  institutes.  Harvard  and  Yale,  by  found 
ing  art  professorships,  and  by  aiding  art  projects  to  the  extent 
of  their  ability,  may  put  into  willing  hands  the  lever  with 
which  to  move  the  American  world.  We  look  to  them  for  aid 
as  we  look  to  no  other  source,  because  we  know  that  they  can 
most  reasonably  be  expected  to  understand  the  importance  of 
the  work  which  art  museums  and  schools  of  design  are  capa 
ble  of  accomplishing.  Our  hope  for  the  success  of  the  proposed 
Museum  of  Art  in  Boston,  for  instance,  is  mainly  grounded  upon 
the  consent  of  its  educational  institutions  to  take  an  active  part 
in  its  government,  and  to  loan  it  their  art  collections.  If  art 


American  Art  Museums.  [July? 

is  a  unit,  so  is  education ;  the  cause  of  cultivation  is  one,  and 
whether  we  labor  for  it  through  letters  or  through  art,  we  are 
equally  serving  the  same  noble  end. 

If  European  speculators  upon  future  art  collections  in  Amer 
ica  cannot  fairly  estimate  how  the  absence  of  a  central  author 
ity  is  felt  when  the  attempt  is  made  to  found  them,  neither 
can  they  sufficiently  enter  into  our  national  character  to  know 
our  dislike  of  taking  such  slow,  well-calculated  steps  as  are 
necessary  to  insure  their  success.  The  course  taken  at  Ken 
sington  and  at  Vienna,  of  planting  an  acorn  with  hope  that  it 
may  grow  into  an  oak,  does  not  tally  with  our  impatient  desire 
to  realize  our  ideas  at  once  in  full  splendor.  We  need  art  in 
America,  and  some  one  immediately  proposes  to  purchase  the 
Villa  Albani,  transport  its  matchless  bas-reliefs  from  the  spot 
where  Winckelman's  fostering  care  united  them,  and  turn  the 
Casino  into  an  American  Academy  which  shall  at  once  stand 
on  a  par  with  the  French  Academy  at  the  Villa  Medici.  We 
want  museums,  and  our  tendency  is  to  spend  all  our  money  in 
erecting  a  huge  building  whose  empty  halls  will  do  but  little  to 
help  us  towards  the  end  we  have  in  view.  What  we  shall  do 
if  we  are  wise  is  to  begin  by  building  only  for  the  purpose  of 
placing  collections  already  bought  or  given  ;  or  better  yet,  by 
hiring  for  this  purpose  some  vacant  rooms,  where  they  can  be 
kept  until  we  have  matured  our  plans  and  found  out  exactly 
what  we  want.  The  Kensington  Museum  began  in  "  the 
Brompton  Boilers,"  and  iron  sheds  were  added  to  cover  new 
acquisitions ;  so  also  the  collections  at  Vienna  have  been  for 
years  kept  in  the  rooms  of  the  Imperial  "  Ball  Haus  "  awaiting 
the  completion  of  a  building  fitting  their  present  importance. 
So  again  the  collections  of  the  Nuremberg  Museum  were  tem 
porarily  placed  for  eleven  years  before  its  directors  purchased 
the  Carthusian  convent  to  receive  them. 

All  these  examples  teach  us  that  our  motto  should  be,  "  Fes- 
tina  lente."  Given  that  we  start  with  a  few  rooms  full  of 
really  good  objects,  —  a  collection  of  Chinese  or  Japanese  lac 
and  enamels,  for  instance,  which  it  would  always  be  easy  to 
form  in  this  country, — and  with  works  of  art  loaned  for  a  time 
by  public  institutions  or  private  persons,  supplemented  with  as 
many  originals  and  reproductions  as  our  funds  will  allow  us 


1870.]  The  Session.  29 

i 

to  purchase,  we  cannot  fail,  if  we  open  our  doors  freely  by  day 
and  in  the  evening  to  the  public,  to  excite  an  ever-increasing 
interest  which  will  lead  to  gifts  of  money  and  works  of  art, 
and  eventually  to  the  erection  of  such  a  building  as  will  be  an 
honor  and  an  embellishment  to  any  city. 

No  man  ever  regretted  the  time  spent  upon  a  work  which 
when  finished  was  pronounced  perfect,  and  no  one  ever  gauged 
a  result,  whether  bad  or  good,  by  the  hours  or  the  years 
spent  over  it.  The  only  important  thing  is  that  when  done 
there  should  be  no  cause  for  regret.  Better  never  have  museum 
buildings  than  have  bad  ones,  for  if  they  are  so, they  will  give 
the  lie  to  that  clause  of  our  programme  which  professes  to 
serve  the  cause  of  art  through  architecture,  the  oldest  and 
one  of  the  noblest  of  arts. 

CHARLES  C.  PERKINS. 


ART.  II.  —  THE  SESSION. 

To  say  that  the  government  of  the  United  States  is  passing 
through  a  period  of  transition  is  one  of  the  baldest  common 
places  of  politics.  This  transition,  which  few  persons  deny,  is, 
from  a  scientific  point  of  view,  an  intensely  interesting  illustra 
tion  of  the  manner  in  which  principles  are  established.  The 
generation  which  framed  the  American  form  of  government 
meant  it  to  be,  not  only  in  mechanism,  but  in  theory,  a  clear 
and  outspoken  contradiction  to  opinions  commonly  accepted  in 
Europe.  The  men  who  made  the  Constitution  intended  to  make 
by  its  means  a  distinct. issue  with  antiquity,  and  they  had  the 
most  precise  conception  of  the  issue  itself  and  of  their  own  pur 
poses  in  raising  it.  These  purposes  were  perhaps  chimerical. 
The  hopes- then  felt  were  almost  certainly  delusive.  And  yet 
even  the  persons  who  grant  the  probable  failure  of  the  scheme, 
and  expect  the  recurrence  of  the  great  problems  in  government 
which  were  then  thought  to  be  solved,  cannot  but  look  with 
satisfaction  at  the  history  of  the  Federal  Constitution  as  the 
most  convincing  and  the  most  interesting  experiment  that  has 


30  The  Session. 

ever  been  made  in  the  laboratory  of  political  science,  even  if  it 
only  demonstrates  the  impossibility  of  success  through  its 
means. 

The  great  object  of  terror  and  suspicion  to  the  people  of  the 
thirteen  provinces  was  Power  ;  not  merely  power  in  the  hands 
of  a  president  or  a  prince,  of  one  assembly  or  of  several,  of 
many  citizens  or  of  few,  but  power  in  the  abstract,  wherever  it 
existed  and  under  whatever  name  it  was  known.  "  There  is 
and  must  be,"  said  Blackstone,  "  in  all  forms  of  government, 
however  they  began  or  by  what  right  soever  they  exist,  a  su 
preme,  irresistible,  absolute,  uncontrolled  authority,  in  which 
the  jura  summi  imperil,  or  the  rights  of  sovereignty,  reside  "  ; 
and  Parliament  is  the  place  "  where  that  absolute  despotic 
power  which  must  in  all  governments  reside  somewhere  is 
intrusted  by  the  constitution  of  the  British  kingdoms."  Su 
preme,  irresistible  authority  must  exist  somewhere  in  every 
government,  was  the  European  political  theory,  and  England 
solved  her  problem  by  intrusting  it  to  a  representative  assem 
bly  to  be  used  according  to  the  best  judgment  of  the  nation. 
America,  on  the  other  hand,  asserted  that  the  principle  was  not 
true  ;  that  no  such  supreme  power  need  exist  in  a  government ; 
that  in  the  American  government  none  such  should  be  allowed 
to  exist,  because  absolute  power  in  any  form  was  inconsistent 
with  freedom  ;  and  that  the  new  government  should  start  from 
the  idea  that  the  public  liberties  depended  upon  denying  un 
controlled  authority  to  the  political  system  in  its  parts  or  in 
its  whole. 

Every  one  knows  with  what  a  rigid  and  admirable  logic  this 
theory  was  worked  out  in  framing  the  mechanism  of  the  new 
republic.  Not  only  were  rights  reserved  to  the  people  never  to 
be  parted  with,  but  rights  of  great  extent  were  reserved  to  the 
States  as  a  sacred  deposit  to  be  jealously  guarded.  And  even 
when  it  came  to  constructing  the  central  government,  the 
three  great  depositories  of  power  were  made  independent  of 
each  other,  checks  on  each  other's  assumption  of  authority, 
separately  responsible  to  the  people,  that  each  might  be  a 
protection  and  not  a  danger  to  the  public  liberties.  The 
framers  of  the  Constitution  did  not  indeed  presume  to  pre 
scribe  or  limit  the  powers  a  nation  might  exercise  if  its  exist- 


1870.]  The  Session.  31 

ence  were  at  stake.  They  knew  that  under  such  an  emergency 
all  paper  limitations  must  yield,  but  they  still  hoped  that  the 
lesson  they  had  taught  would  sink  so  deep  into  the  popular 
mind  as  to  cause  a  re-establishment  of  the  system  after  the 
emergency  had  passed.  The  hope  was  scarcely  supported  by 
the  experience  of  history,  but,  like  M.  Necker  in  France,  they 
were  obliged  to  trust  somewhat  to  the  "  virtues  of  the  human 
heart." 

The  two  great  theories  of  government  stood  face  to  face 
during  three  quarters  of  a  century.  Europe  still  maintained 
that  supreme  power  must  be  trusted  to  every  government, 
democratic  or  not,  and  America  still  maintained  that  such  a 
principle  was  inconsistent  with  freedom.  The  civil  war  broke 
out  in  the  United  States,  and  of  course  for  the  time  obliter 
ated  the  Constitution.  Peace  came,  and  with  it  came  the 
moment  for  the  final  settlement  of  this  long  scientific  dispute. 
If  the  constitutional  system  restored  itself,  America  was  right, 
and  the  oldest  problem  in  political  science  was  successfully 
solved. 

Every  one  knows  the  strange  concurrence  of  accidents,  if 
anything  in  social  sequence  can  be  called  accident,  which 
seemed  to  prevent  a  fair  working  of  the  tendency  to  restora 
tion  during  the  four  years  that  followed  the  close  of  actual  war. 
With  the  year  1869  a  new  and  peculiarly  favorable  change 
took  place.  Many  good  and  true  Americans  then  believed  that 
the  time  had  come,  and  that  the  old  foundation  on  which 
American  liberties  had  been  planted  would  now  be  fully  and 
firmly  restored.  There  was,  in  fact,  a  brilliant  opportunity  for 
the  new  administration,  not  perhaps  to  change  the  ultimate 
result,  but  to  delay  some  decades  yet  the  actual  demonstra 
tion  of  failure.  The  new  President  had  unbounded  popular 
confidence.  He  was  tied  to  no  party.  He  was  under  no 
pledges.  And,  above  all,  he  had  the  inestimable  advantage 
of  a  military  training,  which,  unlike  a  political  training,  is 
calculated  to  encourage  the  moral  distinction  between  right 
and  wrong. 

No  one  could  fail  to  see  with  amusement  the  mingled  feel 
ings  of  alarm  and  defiance  with  which  Senators  and  politicians 
waited  the  President's  first  move.  Nor  was  it  they  alone,  but 


32  The  Session.  [July, 

almost  the  entire  public,  that  expected  to  see  him  at  once  grasp 
with  a  firm  hand  the  helm  of  government,  and  give  the  vessel 
of  state  a  steady  and  determined  course.  It  was  long  before 
the  more  conservative  class  of  citizens,  who  had  no  partisan 
prejudices,  could  convince  themselves  that  in  this  respect  they 
had  not  perhaps  overrated  so  much  as  misconceived  the  charac 
ter  of  the  President,  and  that  they  must  learn  to  look  at  him  in 
a  light  entirely  unlike  any  they  had  been  hitherto  accustomed 
to  surround  him  with.  This  misconception  or  misunderstand 
ing  was,  however,  perfectly  natural,  and  can  be  no  matter  for 
surprise  when  it  is  considered  that  even  to  the  President's 
oldest  and  most  intimate  associates  his  character  is  still  in 
some  respects  a  riddle,  and  the  secret  of  his  uniform  and 
extraordinary  success  is  still  a  matter  of  dispute.  Indeed,  it 
may  be  doubted  whether  he  himself,  if  he  ever  fell  into  the 
mischievous  habit  of  analyzing  his  own  mind,  could  answer 
his  own  questions  in  a  manner  that  would  satisfy  his  own 
curiosity.  Nothing  could  be  more  interesting  to  any  person 
who  has  been  perplexed  with  the  doubts  which  the  Presi 
dent's  character  never  fails  to  raise  in  every  one  who  ap 
proaches  him,  than  to  have  these  doubts  met  and  explained 
by  some  competent  authority;  by  some  old  associate  like  Gen 
eral  Sherman,  with  an  active  mind  ever  eager  to  grapple  with 
puzzles ;  by  some  civil  subordinate  such  as  a  civil  subordinate 
ought  to  be,  quick  at  measuring  influences  and  at  unravel 
ling  the  tangled  skein  of  ideas  which  runs  through  the  brains 
of  an  administration.  As  a  rule,  however,  the  reply  to  every 
inquiry  comes  in  the  form  of  confessed  ignorance :  "  We  do 
not  know  why  the  President  is  successful ;  we  only  know  that 
he  succeeds." 

"Without  attempting  to  explain  what  is  evidently  so  compli 
cated  an  enigma,  one  may  still  form  a  partial  idea  of  General 
Grant's  civil  career  from  the  facts  which  are  now  open  to  all 
the  world.  It  seems  clear  at  the  outset  that  the  President's 
mind  rarely  acts  from  any  habit  of  wide  generalization.  As  a 
rule,  the  ideas  which  he  executes  with  so  much  energy,  appear 
to  come  to  him  one  by  one,  without  close  or  rapid  logical 
sequence  ;  and  as  a  person  may  see  and  calculate  the  effect  of 
a  drop  of  acid  on  an  organic  substance,  so  one  may  sometimes 


1870.]  The  Session.  33 

almost  seem  to  see  the  mechanical  process  by  which  a  new  idea 
eats  its  way  into  the  President's  unconscious  mind, —  where  its 
action  begins  and  where  its  force  is  exhausted.  Hence  arise 
both  advantages  and  misfortunes.  This  faculty  for  assimilation 
of  ideas,  this  nature,  which  the  Germans  would  call  thoroughly 
objective,  under  ordinary  circumstances,  and  when  not  used  by 
selfish  men  for  corrupt  purposes,  gives  elasticity,  freedom  from 
inveterate  prejudices,  and  capacity  for  progress.  It  would  be 
likely  to  produce  a  course  of  action,  not  perhaps  strictly  logical, 
nor  perfectly  steady,  nor  capable  of  standing  the  sharper  tests 
of  hostile  criticism,  but  in  the  main  practical,  sensible,  and  in 
intention  thoroughly  honest.  But  when  used  by  Jay  Gould 
and  Abel  Rathbone  Corbin  with  the  skill  of  New  York  stock 
brokers  for  illegitimate  objects,  the  result  is  all  the  more 
disastrous  in  proportion  to  the  energy  of  execution  for  which 
the  President  is  so  remarkable. 

Most  persons,  however,  and  especially  those  who  had  formed 
their  ideas  of  the  President  from  his  Vicksburg  campaign, 
entertained  a  very  different  notion  of  his  intellectual  qualities. 
The  Vicksburg  campaign  has  puzzled  equally  the  enemies  and 
the  friends  of  the  President.  General  Sherman's  frank  expres 
sion  of  this  feeling  of  surprise  found  its  way  into  print  in  the 
form  of  a  sincere  tribute  of  admiration  spoken  by  a  man  con 
scious  of  having  underrated  his  superior  officer.  The  public, 
on  the  strength  of  this  brilliant  campaign,  assumed  with  rea 
son  that  a  general  capable  of  planning  and  executing  a  mili 
tary  scheme  such  as  Napoleon  himself  might  have  envied, 
must  possess  an  aptitude  for  elaboration  of  idea  and  careful 
adaptation  of  means  to  ends  such  as  would  in  civil  administra 
tion  produce  a  large  and  vigorous  political  policy.  Yet  it  is 
quite  certain  that  such  refinement  of  conception  was  not  in 
General  Grant's  nature.  No  such  ambition  entered  his  head. 
He  neither  encouraged  it  nor  believed  in  its  advantages.  His 
own  idea  of  his  duties  as  President  was  always  openly  and 
consistently  expressed,  and  may  perhaps  be  best  described  as 
that  of  the  commander  of  an  army  in  time  of  peace.  He  was 
to  watch  over  the  faithful  administration  of  the  government ; 
to  see  that  the  taxes  were  honestly  collected ;  that  the  dis 
bursements  were  honestly  made;  that  economy  was  strictly 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  3 


34  The  Session. 

enforced;  that  the  laws  were  everywhere  obeyed,  good  and 
bad  alike ;  and  as  it  was  the  duty  of  every  military  comman 
der  to  obey  the  civil  authority  without  question,  so  it  was  the 
duty  of  the  President  to  follow  without  hesitation  the  wishes  of 
the  people  as  expressed  by  Congress. 

It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  say  that  this  is  not  the  range  of 
duties  prescribed  to  an  American  President  either  by  the  Con 
stitution  or  by  custom,  although  it  may  be  that  which  Congress 
desires  and  to  which  the  system  inevitably  tends.  More  than 
this,  it  could  not  be  realized.  The  President  may  indeed  in 
one  respect  resemble  the  commander  of  an  army  in  peace,  but 
in  another  and  more  essential  sense  he  resembles  the  com 
mander  of  a  ship  at  sea.  He  must  have  a  helm  to  grasp,  a 
course  to  steer,  a  port  to  seek;  he  must  sooner  or  later  be 
convinced  that  a  perpetual  calm  is  as  little  to  his  purpose  as  a 
perpetual  hurricane,  and  that  without  headway  the  ship  can 
arrive  nowhere.  The  President,  however,  assumed  at  the  out 
set  that  it  was  not  his  duty  to  steer ;  that  his  were  only  duties 
of  discipline. 

Under  these  circumstances,  with  a  President  who,  while  dis 
believing  in  the  propriety  of  having  a  general  policy,  must  yet 
inevitably  be  compelled  to  assume  responsibility ;  with  one, 
too,  whose  mind,  if  not  imaginative  nor  highly  cultivated,  was 
still  curiously  sensitive  to  surrounding  influences,  the  neces 
sity  was  all  the  greater  that  the  gentlemen  on  whose  advice 
and  assistance  he  would  be  compelled  to  lean  should  be  calcu 
lated  to  supplement  his  natural  gifts.  From  him  personally 
the  public  had  not  required  high  civil  education.  Rulers  have 
always  the  right  to  command  and  appropriate  the  education 
and  the  intelligence  of  their  people.  But  knowledge  some 
where,  either  in  himself  or  in  his  servants,  is  essential  even  to 
an  American  President,  —  perhaps  to  him  most  of  all  rulers,  — 
and  thus,  though  it  was  a  matter  of  comparatively  little  impor 
tance  that  the  President's  personal  notions  of  civil  government 
were'  crude,  and  that  his  ideas  of  political  economy  were  those 
of  a  feudal  monarch  a  thousand  years  ago,  it  was  of  the  high 
est  possible  consequence  that  his  advisers  should  be  able  to 
supply  the  knowledge  that  he  could  not  have  been  expected  to 
possess,  and  should  develop  the  ideas  which  his  growing  expe- 


1870.]  The  Session.  35 

rience  would  give  him.  And  as  it  was  clear  at  the  outset  that 
questions  of  finance  would  assume  overruling  importance,  it 
was  evident  that  a  responsibility  of  the  most  serious  character 
would  rest  on  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury. 

The  official  importance  of  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  can 
hardly  be  over-estimated.  Not  only  is  his  mere  political  power 
in  the  exercise  of  patronage  far  greater  than  that  of  any  other 
cabinet  officer,  but  in  matters  of  policy  almost  every  conceiv 
able  proposition  of  foreign  or  domestic  interest  sooner  or  later 
involves  financial  considerations  and  requires  an  opinion  from 
a  financial  stand-point.  Hence  in  the  English  system  the  head 
of  administration  commonly  occupies  the  post  of  premier  lord 
of  the  Treasury.  In  the  American  form  of  government  the 
head  of  the  Treasury  is  also  the  post  of  real  authority,  rivalling 
that  of  the  President  itself,  and  almost  too  powerful  for  har 
mony  or  subordination.  The  Secretary's  voice  ought  to  have 
more  weight  with  the  President  than  that  of  any  other  ad 
viser.  The  Secretary's  financial  policy  ought  to  be  the  one 
point  on  which  each  member  of  the  administration  is  united 
with  every  other.  At  a  time  like  the  summer  of  1869  when 
old  issues  were  passing  away  and  a  new  condition  of  things 
was  at  hand ;  when  the  public  was  waiting  to  be  led  or  mildly 
kneeling  to  take  up  its  master ;  it  was  more  than  ever  impor 
tant  that  the  President  should  have  in  the  Treasury  a  man  who 
could  command  and  compel  respect. 

In  a  former  number  of  this  Review,*  in  a  passage  sharply 
criticised  at  the  time,  an  opinion  of  Mr.  Boutwell's  character 
was  expressed,  formed  from  a  special  stand-point,  implying 
theories  at  which  Mr.  Bout  well  would  probably  smile,  and 
which  he  would  disregard  as  springing  from  an  unpractical 
and  unprofitable  mode  of  thought.  Now  that  it  becomes 
necessary  to  speak  of  him  again,  and  this  time  from  a  stand 
point  more  nearly  identical  with  his  own,  there  is  danger  of 
being  again  thought  to  say  more  than  is  strictly  just.  Un 
fortunately,  no  review  of  the  year  could  be  written  which,  in 
regard  to  the  most  important  branch  of  the  administration, 
should  undertake  to  say  nothing  at  all. 

Mr.  Boutwell  was  not  a  person  to  make  good  the  wants  of 

*  October,  1869.    Article,  "Civil  Service  Reform." 


36  The  Session. 

the  President.  General  Grant  wanted  civil  education,  but  in 
return  he  was  peculiarly  open  to  new  ideas,  and  had  in  a 
marked  degree  the  capacity  to  learn  from  any  one  who  had  the 
faculty  to  teach.  Mr.  Boutwell  had  no  faculty  whatever  for 
teaching,  and  very  little  respect  for  knowledge  that  was  not 
narrowly  practical.  He  believed  in  knowledge  just  so  far  as 
it  was  convenient  for  him  to  justify  his  own  theory  that  knowl 
edge  was  a  deception.  .He  believed  in  common  schools,  and 
not  in  political  science ;  in  ledgers  and  cash-books,  but  not  in 
Adam  Smith  or  Mill ;  as  one  might  believe  in  the  multiplica 
tion-table,  but  not  in  Laplace  or  Newton.  By  a  natural  logic 
he  made  of  his  disbelief  in  the  higher  branches  of  political 
science  a  basis  for  his  political  practice,  and  thus  grounding 
action  on  ignorance  he  carried  out  his  principle  to  its  remotest 
conclusions.  He  too,  like  the  President,  announced  that  he 
had  no  policy,  and  even  more  persistently  than  the  President 
he  attempted  to  govern  on  the  theory  that  government  was  no 
concern  of  his.  Other  persons  in  a  similar  position  would 
commonly  have  leaned  either  to  the  theorists  on  one  side,  or 
to  so-called  practical  men  on  the  other,  but  Mr.  Boutwell 
treated  both  with  the  same  indifference.  He  had  all  the  theo 
rists  in  Europe  and  America  to  choose  from,  but  he  did  not 
listen  to  their  teachings.  He  had  all  the  practical  men  in  the 
country  at  his  service,  but  he  did  not  follow  their  advice.  He 
had  all  the  best  members  of  the  Legislature  to  depend  upon, 
but  he  did  not  desire  their  assistance.  He  had  a  costly  and 
elaborate  machinery  maintained  by  the  country  to  furnish  him 
with  any  information  he  might  require,  but  Mr.  Boutwell  never 
required  information.  Nay,  it  seems  from  published  papers 
almost  certain  that  Mr.  Boutwell,  sitting  twice  a  week  in  con 
sultation  with  his  colleagues  in  the  cabinet,  cannot  have  con 
trolled  their  measures  nor  even  discussed  his  own.  The  Pres 
ident  himself  at  the  time  of  his  Message  could  hardly  have 
been  consulted  by  the  Secretary. 

To  analyze  a  policy  which  does  not 'exist,  —  to  trace  the 
adaptation  of  means  to  ends  where  no  adaptation  was  intended, 
is  a  mere  waste  of  time  and  ingenuity.  Yet  there  is  no  man 
in  existence,  however  much  he  may  aspire  to  it,  who  can  suc 
ceed  in  absolutely  obliterating  all  ideas  from  his  mind,  or  can 


1870.]  The  Session.  37 

prevent  his  acts  from  showing  some  trace  of  intelligence.  This 
relation  between  ideas  and  acts,  commonly  known  as  a  policy, 
was  distinctly  visible  in  Mr.  BoutwelPs  course,  although  it  was 
visible  only  within  an  extremely  limited  range.  Of  most  polit 
ical  leaders  it  might  have  been  foretold  with  certainty  that 
they  would  expend  their  whole  energy  on  a  restoration  of  the 
currency,  or  on  a  reduction  of  the  taxes,  confident  that  if  these 
were  once  settled  the  financial  situation  would  be  secure.  Mr. 
BoutwelPs  passion  was  different.  He  had  only  a  single  object  of 
enthusiastic  ambition,  but  this  was  to  redeem  the  national  debt. 
To  do  this  from  day  to  day,  —  to  collect  more  and  more  -mil 
lions  from  the  people,  no  matter  by  what  devices  ;  to  cut  down 
the  expenses  to  their  lowest  point ;  to  accumulate  the  surplus 
in  the  Treasury  ;  to  buy  with  it,  month  by  month,  more  and 
more  of  the  government's  own  debts,  and  thus  to  see  the  huge 
mass  of  indebtedness  slowly  •  dwindle  and  diminish  in  his 
hands,  —  this  was  a  positive,  tangible,  self-evident  proof  of  suc 
cess,  which  appealed  directly  to  the  lowest  order  of  intelli 
gence,  and  struck  with  the  greatest  possible  force  the  mind  of 
the  voting  public.  To  this  idea  Mr.  Boutwell  sacrificed  cur 
rency  reform,  revenue  reform,  and  every  hope  of  relief  from 
taxation,  and  to  this  idea  he  subordinated  even  his  own  next 
ambition,  that  of  lowering  the  rate  of  interest  on  the  debt. 
Beyond  this  he  abnegated  ideas.  He  did  nothing,  said  noth: 
ing,  heard  nothing,  except  when  necessity  compelled. 

Although  it  is  no  doubt  true  that  the  policy  thus  embraced 
by  Mr.  Boutwell  was  neither  broad  nor  deep,  and  certainly  not 
that  of  a  great  statesman,  yet  it  is  by  no  means  impossible 
that  in  pursuing  this  easy  and  simple  course  Mr.  Boutwell 
may  have  taken  the  most  direct  path  to  an  apparently  brilliant 
success,  such  as  it  was  his  nature  to  desire,  —  a  success  far 
better  calculated  for  his  purposes  than  though  he  had  strayed 
aside  into  the  vast  and  comprehensive  reforms,  which  would 
have  dazzled  the  imaginations  of  Turgot,  of  Pitt,  or  of  Hamil 
ton.  But  the  success  which  is  gained  by  so  meagre  and  sterile 
a  conception  is  of  little  permanent  value,  even  when  compared 
with  a  bold  and  generous  failure.  If  a  critic  were  called  upon 
to  name  the  most  unfortunate  of  all  the  financiers  who  have 
ever  controlled  the  resources  of  France,  he  might,  from  Mr. 


38  The  Session.  [July> 

Boutwell's  point  of  view,  find  difficulty  in  discovering  a  more 
conspicuous  failure  than  the  administration  of  Turgot.  If  he 
applied  the  same  process  to  British  finance,  he  might  probably 
be  compelled  at  last  to  fix  upon  no  less  illustrious  a  career 
than  that  of  William  Pitt.  But  if  he  were  to  test  his  theory 
by  the  opposite  experiment  of  selecting  from  English  history 
the  nearest  approach  to  Mr.  Boutwell's  ideal  of  financial  suc 
cess,  he  would  certainly  be  compelled  to  pass  in  silence  over 
the  names  of  Montagu  and  of  Walpole,  of  Pitt,  of  Peel,  and  of 
Gladstone,  in  order  to  draw  from  its  almost  forgotten  resting- 
place  the  memory  of  some  third-rate  Chancellor  of  the  Exche 
quer,  some  Nicholas  Yansittart,  whose  very  name  is  a  blank 
even  to  the  students  of  biographical  cyclopedias.  Mr.  Vansit- 
tart,  indeed,  would  in  most  respects,  except  for  his  curious 
financial  knowledge,  and  his  reverence  for  the  financial  teach 
ings  of  his  great  master,  Pitt,  serve  well  as  the  ideal  of  Mr. 
Boutwell.  A  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  who,  coming  into 
office  in  1812,  at  almost  the  darkest  moment  of  England's  strug 
gle  with  the  world,  had  remained  at  the  head  of  the  finances 
through  the  war ;  had  met  and  triumphantly  stood  the  shock  of 
the  return  from  Elba,  and  of  Waterloo ;  had  carried  England 
back  to  specie  payments  after  twenty  years  of  paper  money; 
had  at  a  single  operation  reduced  the  interest  on  a  capital  of 
.nearly  $  800,000,000,  at  that  time  the  largest  sum  ever  dealt 
with  in  a  mass ;  and  who,  to  crown  all,  had  arrived  at  the  height 
of  his  ambition  in  1823  by  raising  the  surplus,  applicable  to  the 
reduction  of  debt,  to  the  unprecedented  point  of  $25,000,000, 
in  spite  of  the  opposition  of  the  whole  body  of  liberal  and  edu 
cated  politicians,  —  a  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  with  twelve 
years  of  such  triumphs  as  these  could  scarcely  be  denied  the 
credit  of  supreme  and  unrivalled  success.  Yet  such  is  the 
perverseness  of  history,  and  so  unreasonable  is  human  preju 
dice,  that  not  only  the  contemporaries  of  Mr.  Vansittart,  al 
though  attached  to  him  by  his  genial  and  good-natured  man 
ners,  but  also  posterity,  to  which  his  name  is  so  little  familiar, 
have  combined  with  one  accord  in  agreeing  that  as  a  financial 
minister  he  was  a  conspicuous  example  of  incompetence,  who 
for  years  hung  like  a  clog  on  the  progress  of  England,  and 
his  name  is  now  only  mentioned  with  a  smile  of  passing 
contempt.  ^ 


1870.]  The  Session.  39 

But,  so  far  as  finance  was  concerned,  Mr.  Boutwell's  policy 
might  have  been  poorer  even  than  it  was,  and  yet  the  vigor 
of  the  country  would  have  made  it  a  success.  The  greatest 
responsibilities  of  a  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  are  not  finan 
cial,  and  an  administration  framed  upon  the  narrow  basis  of 
mere  departmental  activity  must  be  always,  except  under  the 
strongest  of  Presidents,  an  invitation  to  failure.  The  storm 
iest  of  cabinets,  the  most  venturesome  of  advisers,  the  boldest 
of  political  rivals  for  power,  are  likely  to  produce  in  combina 
tion  a  better  result  than  that  unorganized  and  disjointed  har 
mony,  that  dead  unanimity,  which  springs  from  divided  re 
sponsibility.  Mr.  Boutwell  had  neither  the  wish  nor  the  scope 
to  assume  the  functions  or  to  wield  the  power  of  his  office,  and 
instead  of  stamping  upon  the  President  and  his  administration 
the  impress  of  a  strong  controlling  mind,  he  drew  himself  back 
into  a  narrow  corner  of  his  own,  and  encouraged  and  set  the 
example  of  isolation  at  a  time  when  the  most  concentrated 
action  was  essential  to  the  rescue  of  the  Executive. 

Even  in  the  quietest  of  times  and  under  the  most  despotic 
chief  such  a  departmental  government  is  at  best  a  doubtful 
experiment,  but  in  the  summer  and  autumn  of  1869  it  was 
peculiarly  ill-timed.  Every  politician  felt  that  the  first  year  of 
the  new  administration  would  probably  fix  the  future  character 
of  the  government.  The  steady  process  by  which  power  was 
tending  to  centralization  in  defiance  of  the  entire  theory  of  the 
political  system ;  the  equally  steady  tendency  of  this  power  to 
accumulate  itself  in  the  hands  of  the  Legislature  at  the  expense 
of  the  Executive  and  the  Judiciary  ;  the  ever-increasing  en 
croachments  of  the  Senate ;  the  ever-diminishing  efficiency  of 
the  House ;  all  the  different  parts  and  processes  of  the  great 
general  movement  which  indicated  a  certain  abandonment  of 
the  original  theory  of  the  American  system,  and  a  no  less  cer 
tain  substitution  of  a  method  of  government,  which  promised 
to  be  both  corrupt  and  inefficient,  —  all  these  were  now  either 
to  be  fixed  upon  the  country  beyond  recall,  or  were  to  be  met 
with  a  prompt  and  energetic  resistance.  To  evade  the  contest 
was  to  accept  the  revolution.  In  order  to  resist  with  success, 
the  President  must  have  slowly  built  up  his  authority  upon 
every  side,  until  the  vigor  and  success  of  his  administration 


40  The  Session.  [July, 

overawed  the  Senate,  and  carried  away  the  House  by  the  sheer 
strength  of  popular  applause.  That  such  a  result  was  possible 
'  no  one  can  doubt  who  had  occasion  to  see  how  much  it  was 
dreaded  by  the  Washington  politicians  of  the  winter  and  spring 
of  1869,  and  how  rapidly  they  resumed  confidence  on  discover 
ing  that  the  President  had  no  such  schemes. 

By  the  time  Congress  came  together,  in  December,  1869, 
the  warm  hopes  which  had  illuminated  the  election  of  Novem 
ber,  1868,  had  faded  from  the  public  mind.  It  was  clear  that 
the  administration  was  marked  by  no  distinctive  character. 
No  purpose  of  peculiar  elevation,  no  broad  policy,  no  com 
manding  dignity,  indicated  the  beginning  of  a  new  era.  The 
old  type  of  politician  was  no  less  powerful  than  under  other 
Presidents.  The  old  type  of  idea  was  not  in  the  least  im 
proved  by  the  personal  changes  between  1861  and  1870.  The 
administration  was  not  prepared  for  a  contest  with  Congress, 
and  at,  the  last  moment  it  was  still  without  a  purpose,  without 
followers,  and  without  a  head. 

Under  these  circumstances  the  President's  Message  was  sent 
to  the  Capitol.  It  was  studied  with  all  the  more  curiosity 
because  it  was  supposed  to  reflect  the  internal  condition  of  the 
government.  Nothing  could  well  have  presented  a  less  reas 
suring  prospect.  The  want  of  general  plan  and  of  unity  of 
idea  was  so  obvious  that  it  was  scarcely  necessary  to  be  assured 
of  the  harmony  of  the  administration.  An  administration 
which  did  not  care  enough  about  its  own  opinions  to  quarrel 
about  them  was  naturally  harmonious.  The  President  and 
the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  were  discovered  expressing  opin 
ions  and  offering  recommendations  diametrically  opposed  to 
each  other,  and  apparently  unconscious  that,  under  all  ordinary 
theories  of  government,  it  is  usual  that  there  should  be  a  head. 
Nor  was  this  all.  The  absence  of  a  strong  mind  in  the  Treas 
ury  was  as  conspicuous  in  what  was  omitted  as  in  what  was 
said.  Not  only  was  the  political  economy,  both  of  the  Message 
and  of  Mr.  BoutwelPs  Report,  a  subject  into  which  the  ridicule 
of  the  foreign  press  cut  with  easy  facility,  to  the  mortification 
of  every  friend  of  the  government,  but  even  where  simpler 
declarations,  not  requiring  previous  knowledge  of  principles, 
would  have  satisfied  every  purpose,  their  absence  was  almost 


1870.]  The  Session.  41 

as  marked  as  was  the  presence  of  Mr.  Boutwell's  famous 
barrels  of  flour.  In  regard  to  the  currency  alone  was  the 
President  at  the  head  or  in  advance  of  public  opinion,  and  in 
regard  to  the  currency  his  Secretary  offered  him  no  active 
support.  Other  reforms  shared  a  worse  fate.  The  reduction 
of  taxes  was  discouraged,  the  civil  service  was  not  noticed, 
and  tariff  reform  was  distinctly  opposed.  Had  it  not  been  for 
the  good  sense  of  the  remarks  on  reconstruction  and  foreign 
affairs,  the  President's  first  appearance  before  Congress  would 
have  hazarded  the  reproach  of  absurdity. 

The  result,  already  a  foregone  conclusion,  was  at  once 
apparent  when  Congress  took  up  its  work.  So  far  as  the  Pres 
ident's  initiative  was  concerned,  the  President  and  his  Cabinet 
might  equally  well  have  departed  separately  or  together  to 
distant  lands.  Their  recommendations  were  uniformly  disre 
garded.  Mr.  Sumner,  at  the  head  of  the  Senate,  rode  rough 
shod  over  their  reconstruction  policy  and  utterly  overthrew  it, 
in  spite  of  the  feeble  resistance  of  the  House.  Mr.  Conkling 
then  ousted  Mr.  Sumner  from  his  saddle,  and  headed  the  Sen 
ate  in  an  attack  upon  the  Executive  as  represented  by  Judge 
Hoar,  the  avowed  casus  belli  being  the  fact  that  the  Attorney- 
General's  manners  were  unsatisfactory  to  the  Senate.  But 
Mr.  Conkling's  most  brilliant  triumph  was  over  the  Census 
bill.  Here  he  had  a  threefold  victory,  and  it  would  be  hard 
to  say  which  of  the  three  afforded  him  the  keenest  gratifica-* 
tion.  Single-handed  he  attacked  Mr.  Sumner,  the  House,  and 
the  Executive,  and  routed  them  all  in  most  disastrous  confu 
sion.  Never  was  factiousness  more  alluring  or  more  success 
ful  than  under  Mr.  Conkling's  lead.  Then  again  Mr.  Sumner 
came  to  the  front  and  obtained  a  splendid  triumph  over  the 
President  in  regard  to  San  Domingo.  Mr.  Sherman  was  less 
vigorous  and  less  fortunate  in  regard  to  the  currency  and  fund 
ing  measures,  but  Mr.  Boutwell  asked  so  little  it  was  difficult 
to  do  more  than  ignore  him.  And  even  in  the  House  Mr. 
Dawes,  the  official  spokesman  of  the  government,  if  the  gov 
ernment  has  an  official  spokesman,  startled  the  entire  country 
by  a  sudden  and  dashing  volunteer  attack  on  the  only  point  of 
General  Grant's  lines  on  the  absolute  security  of  which  he  had 
prided  himself,  —  his  economy,  and  to  this  day  no  man  under- 


42  The  Session.  [July* 

stands  how  Mr.  Dawes's  foray  was  neutralized  or  evaded,  or 
whether  Mr.  Dawes  was  right  or  wrong. 

The  principal  subjects  of  the  Session,  within  the  scope  of  the 
present  Review,  have  been  reconstruction,  finance,  and  foreign 
affairs. 

On  the  subject  of  reconstruction  little  will  be  here  said. 
The  merits  or  demerits  of  the  system  which  has  been  adopted 
are  no  longer  any  essential  element  of  the  situation.  The 
resistance  to  these  measures  rested  primarily  on  the  fact  that 
they  were  in  violation  of  the  letter  and  spirit  of  the  Constitu 
tion  as  regarded  the  rights  of  States,  and  the  justification 
rested,  not  on  a  denial  of  the  violation,  but  in  the  overruling 
fact  of  necessity.  The  measures  were  adopted  with  extreme 
reluctance  by  a  majority  of  Congressmen  ;  they  were  approved 
with  equal  reluctance  by  a  majority  of  the  people ;  but  they 
have  become  law,  and  whatever  harm  may  ultimately  come 
from  them  is  now  beyond  recall,  and  must  be  left  for  the  com 
ing  generation,  to  which  the  subject  henceforth  belongs,  to 
regulate  according  to  its  circumstances  and  judgment.  At  the 
same  time  the  last  year  has  left  no  doubt  that,  so  far  as  legal 
principles  are  involved,  the  process  of  reconstruction  has 
reached  its  possible  limits.  The  powers  originally  reserved 
by  the  Constitution  to  the  States  are  in  future  to  be  held  by 
"them  only  on  good  behavior,  and  at  the  sufferance  of  Congress. 
They  may  at  any  time  be  suspended  or  assumed  by  Congress. 
Their  original  basis  and  sanction  no  longer  exist,  and  if  they 
offered  any  real  protection  against  the  assumption  of  supreme 
and  uncontrolled  power  by  the  central  government,  that  pro 
tection  is  at  an  end.  How  far  Congress  will,  at  any  future 
day,  care  to  press  its  authority,  or  how  far  the  States  them 
selves  may  succeed  in  resisting  the  power  of  Congress,  are 
questions  which  must  be  answered  by  a  reference  to  the  general 
cburse  of  events.  Something  may  be  judged  of  the  rate  of 
progress  from  the  theory  so  energetically  pressed  during  the 
past  season  by  Senator  Sumner,  that  the  New  England  system 
of  common  schools  is  a  part  of  the  Republican  form  of  govern 
ment  as  understood  by  the  framers  of  the  Constitution,  an  idea 
that  would  have  seemed  to  the  last  generation  as  strange  as 


1.870.]  The  Session.  43 

though  it  had  been  announced  that  the  electric  telegraph  was 
an  essential  article  of  faith  in  the  early  Christian  Church. 
Something  also  may  be  judged  from  the  condition  of  New 
York  City  and  the  evident  failure  of  the  system  of  self-govern 
ment  in  great  municipalities.  Something  more  may  be  guessed 
from  the  rapid  progress  of  corruption  in  shaking  public  confi 
dence  in  State  legislatures.  Finally,  something  may  be  in 
ferred  from  the  enormous  development  of  corporate  power, 
requiring  still  greater  political  power  to  control  it.  But  under 
any  circumstances  the  first  decisive,  irrevocable  step  towards 
substituting  a  new  form  of  government  iii  the  place  of  that  on 
which  American  liberties  have  heretofore  rested,  has  now  been 
taken,  and  by  it  the  American  people  must  stand. 

The  financial  questions,  if  not  so  important  as  those  of  re 
construction,  had  at  least  the  advantage  of  greater  freshness 
and  novelty.  Reduction  of  taxation  was  the  popular  cry. 
Reform  of  taxation  was  equally  essential.  Secretary  Boutwell, 
and  with  him,  though  less  positively  the  President,  resisted  at 
the  outset  either  reduction  or  reform.  The  process  of  bond- 
buying  supplied  in  Mr.  BoutwelPs  mind  the  want  of  any  more 
difficult  intellectual  conception,  while  in  regard  to  free-trade 
ideas  the  Secretary,  like  all  political  New  England,  sympa 
thized  with  the  President  in  his  cold  indifference  to  them.  The 
revenue  reformers  had  not  expected  such  a  result.  They  were 
not  prepared  for  the  hostility  they  met  from  the  administration, 
and  they  were  thus  placed  in  a  position  of  great  difficulty  and 
embarrassment. 

Whatever  was  the  reason  that  the  President  leaned  to  high 
protectionist  ideas,  no  one  was  more  surprised  or  less  gratified 
than  many  of  his  warmest  friends  when  they  found  the  fact 
announced  in  his  Message.  Undoubtedly  the  reformers  had 
hoped  and  expected  to  have  his  sympathy  in  their  efforts  for 
revenue  reform,  as  they  had  hoped  it  in  regard  to  civil-service 
reform,  and  as  they  received  it  in  the  case  of  the  currency ; 
nor  is  there  any  reason  to  suppose*  that  the  President,  even  on 
so  important  a.  subject  as  this,  acted  from  any  very  firm  convic 
tion,  or  considered  the  matter  in  reference  to  any  general  class 
of.  political  ideas.  Nor  can  the  responsibility  for  the  Presi 
dent's  course  be  thrown  upon  his  Secretary  of  the  Treasury, 


44  The  Session.  [July, 

since  Mr.  Boutwell  on  this  subject,  as  on  all  others,  except 
one,  abnegated  influence.  The  difficulty  was  that  the  adminis 
tration,  without  any  active  hostility,  blocked  the  path  of  the 
reformers.  It  would  consent  to  no  absolute  war  upon  them, 
but  its  practical  influence  was  more  mischievous  than  the  bit 
terest  warfare.  To  break  down  the  huge  monopolies  which 
the  central  government  had  created  and  was  now  engaged  in 
supporting,  and  whose  corrupt  influence  was  felt  at  every  step, 
blasting  all  attempts  at  honest  legislation,  seemed  the  first  and 
most  pressing  necessity  to  those  who  believed  that  a  purer  polit 
ical  and  moral  atmosphere  was  only  to  be  found  by  freeing  the 
country  from  them.  But  to  do  this  by  mere  disjointed,  unor 
ganized  effort,  without  support  from  the  administration,  and  in 
face  of  a  large  party  majority  ;  to  do  this  against  the  sneers  and 
contempt  of  every  Republican  Congressman  from  New  England, 
without  a  single  voice  of  open  or  secret  encouragement ;  and 
at  the  same  time  to  meet  and  overcome  the  virulent  bitterness 
of  Pennsylvania  and  her  organized  body  of  allies ;  to  do  it  all 
by  means  of  the  Republican  party  when  the  Republican  party 
in  Congress  dreaded  nothing  so  much  as  the  necessity  of  meet 
ing  this  issue,  seemed  a  project  of  hopeless  temerity.  Neverthe 
less,  there  was  nothing  left  to  choose.  Since  the  administration 
refused  to  lead,  the  reformers  were  compelled  to  advance  alone. 
The  small  body  of  men  in  and  out  of  Congress  who  were 
determined  to  force  the  issue  upon  it  began  the  winter  under 
every  influence  of  discouragement.  Not  only  had  the  President 
abandoned  them,  but  Congress  was  wholly  in  the  hands  of 
their  opponents,  and  the  Committee  of  Ways  and  Means,  en 
tirely  controlled  by  the  protectionist  influence,  had  prepared  an 
ingenious  bill,  calculated  to  reduce  taxation  and  to  check  pop 
ular  complaint,  but  still  more  carefully  constructed  to  maintain 
and  increase  the  protecting  duties  wherever  special  interests 
had  asked  it.  The  readers  of  this  Review  probably  under 
stand  the  general  argument  on  the  subject  of  tariff  reform 
sufficiently  well  to  need  no  dissertation  upon  principles  of  tax 
ation.  It  is  enough  to  say  that  the  present  Congress  had  been 
considered  as  more  thoroughly  devoted  to  protectionist  ideas 
than  any  of  its  predecessors,  and  that  about  fifty  Democratic 
votes  were  all  that  could  be  classed  as  determined  for  free 


1870.]  The  Session.  45 

trade,  with  the  exception  of  three  or  four  Western  Republicans. 
Tariff  reform,  as  advocated  by  Mr.  D.  A.  Wells,  commanded 
a  certain  amount  of  sympathy,  but  its  friends  in  the  House 
were  few  and  timid,  while  the  suspicion  of  free  trade  sounded 
to  the  ears  as  terrible  a  charge  as  that  of  having  worn  a  rebel 
uniform  or  having  been  out  with  the  Ku-klux  clan.  To  convert 
such  a  body  of  men  from  their  early  principles,  by  such  small 
means  as  the  reformers  could  command,  was  a  desperate  under 
taking.  The  friends  of  reform,  therefore,  quitting  in  despair  the 
President  and  his  Cabmet  with  their  stolid  inertia  and  cold 
neutrality,  and  Congress  with  its  bristling  hostility,  turned  back 
to  ask  counsel  of  the  great  popular  masses.  They  had  worked 
throughout  the  summer  and  autumn  with  all  the  energy  they 
possessed,  and  they  continued  to  work  throughout  the  winter, 
not  in  the  lobbies  of  the  Capitol  nor  in  the  ante-chambers  of  the 
departments,  but  directly  and  earnestly  upon  popular  opinion. 
As  spring  approached  they  began  to  resume  confidence.  The 
little  body  of  political  leaders  in  Washington,  whose  interest 
was  sharpened  by  their  anxiety  to  maintain,  their  control  of 
their  constituencies,  received  from  every  quarter  beyond  the 
Alleghanies,  with  few  exceptions,  assurances  of  popular  sympa 
thy  and  support,  so  vigorous  and  so  universal,  that  their  tone 
began  insensibly  to  change  from  depression  to  boldness,  and 
they  already  felt  themselves  strong  enough  to  do  without  the 
administration  if  the  administration  could  do  without  them. 
From  every  great  organ  of  public  opinion  in  the  Western  coun 
try  they  poured  out  a  volume  of  argument  and  appeal  that  no 
possible  popular  influence  could  for  a  moment  resist.  Party 
lines  were  broken  under  their  incessant  attrition.  Members 
of  Congress  began  to  hesitate,  to  consult,  and  to  seek  in 
formation.  The  formal  opening  debate  upon  the  new  tariff 
developed  the  existence  of  a  feeling  such  as  no  one  had  ex 
pected,  and  such  as  had  rarely  if  ever  been  known  even  in  the 
days  of  Henry  Clay.  And  when  the  bill  went  into  committee 
to  be  taken  up  in  detail,  it  is  hard  to  say  who  were  more  aston 
ished,  protectionists  or  reformers,  to  learn  that  in  the  very  first 
division  the  reformers  carried  the  reduction  on  sugar  by  a 
majority  of  two. 

Then  ensued  a  struggle  which  utterly  dumbfoundered  the 


46  The  Session.  [July> 

friends  of  the  tariff,  who  at  first  refused  to  credit  their  defeat, 
and  insisted  on  considering  it  as  an  accident  due  to  the  absence 
of  their  allies.  But  when  the  same  result  occurred  again  and 
again,  while  the  resistance  to  the  bill  became  more  and  more 
general  instead  of  diminishing,  they  slowly  began  to  compre 
hend  their  danger.  General  Schenck,  who  made  every  effort 
to  force  his  measures  through  the  House,  with  far  more  suc 
cess  than  any  other  member  could  possibly  have  obtained,  soon 
lost  his  temper,  having  at  best  no  very  considerable  supply  of 
temper  to  lose,  and  described  his  difficulties  in  graphic  lan 
guage.  "  There  is  nobody  in  this  House,"  said  he,  "  upon 
either  side,  there  is  nobody  anywhere  that  has  watched  the 
progress  of  the  Tariff  Bill  through  the  Committee  of  the  Whole, 
who  does  not  know  that  peculiarly,  and  beyond  perhaps  the 
manifestation  of  hostility  and  attack  upon  any  other  measure 
in  this  or  almost  any  former  Congress,  it  has  been  fought  inch 
by  inch,  step  by  step,  line  by  line,  persistently,  with  heavy  at 
tacks  and  with  light  attacks,  —  and  most  frequently  light.  I 
defy  a  denial  of  that."  The  fact  was  not  one  which  the  re 
formers  proposed  to  deny.  Not  only  did  they  intend  to  resist 
all  increase  of  protective  duties,  but  they  meant  to  lower  the 
duties  wherever  they  could.  They  urged  their  amendments  to 
every  line  and  word  with  a  persistency  which  astonished  them 
selves,  and,  what  was  still  more  surprising,  the  House  in  Com 
mittee  of  the  Whole  supported  their  efforts,  and  drove  the 
Committee  of  Ways  and  Means  to  amend  its  own  bill.  Nor 
did  their  success  end  here.  The  whole  subject  was  forced 
before  the  public  attention,  and  the  political  issue  for  the  com 
ing  elections  was  marked  out  beyond  the  possibility  of  evasion. 
It  remains  to  be  seen  what  course  parties  will  think  proper  to 
adopt,  but  the  experience  of  the  winter  warrants  the  belief 
that  party  lines  have,  in  this  long  struggle,  been  so  rudely 
shaken  that  the  Republican  leaders  will  do  well  to  consider  the 
advantages  of  accepting  some  positive  policy. 

Meanwhile  Mr.  Boutwell  yielded  so  far  to  the  popular  outcry 
that  he  unwillingly  accepted  the  necessity  of  reduction,  if  not 
of  reform,  of  the  taxes,  and  the  President  showed  signs  of 
yielding  to  both  demands.  Their  acceptance  of  the  principle 
of  reform,  though  too  late  to  give  any  real  aid  to  reformers, 


1870.]  The  Session.  47 

might  perhaps  have  served  to  save  a  few  Republican  Congress 
men  from  defeat  in  the  autumn  elections,  but  it  was  a  sign  of 
weakness  rather  than  of  strength,  and  indicated  a  want  of  sta 
bility  which  had  scarcely  been  expected.  As  for  Mr.  Bout- 
well's  persistent  efforts  to  obtain  authority  to  fund  a  portion  of 
the  debt,  the  subject  is  somewhat  too  technical  for  ordinary 
readers,  and  is  fortunately  very  subordinate  in  importance. 
Whatever  respect  Mr.  BoutweH's  policy  deserved,  it  received 
extremely  little,  and  may  be  dismissed  without  further  com 
ment.  In  regard  to  the  currency,  where  reform  ought  prop 
erly  to  have  begun,  no  approach  to  agreement  could  be  made. 
The  subject  was  amply  discussed,  both  formally  and  infor 
mally.  Every  method  of  contraction,  both  direct  and  indirect ; 
every  process  of  acting  on  the  national  greenback  circulation 
through  the  national  banking  currency,  or  on  the  banking  cur 
rency  through  the  greenback  circulation,  on  either  separately 
or  on  both  at  once  ;  every  theory,  no  matter  how  new  or  how 
old;  every  objection,  no  matter  how  frivolous, —  all  in  turn 
were  argued  and  laid  aside,  because  public  opinion  was  not  yet 
ripe  for  action.  As  usual,  nothing  could  be  done  by  the  gov 
ernment,  which  invariably  fails  to  govern.  It  was  necessary 
to  go  back  to  the  people. 

In  the  midst  of  this  universal  deadlock  on  every  issue  except 
reconstruction,  the  Supreme  Court  on  the  7th  of  February  pro 
nounced  its  decision  that  the  Legal-Tender  Act,  so  far  as  it 
applied  to  debts  contracted  before  its  passage,  exceeded  the 
authority  of  Congress,  and  assumed  powers  forbidden  by  the 
Constitution. 

To  any  one  who  places  himself  on  the  stand-point  assumed 
at  the  outset  of  these  remarks,  it  is  obvious  that  the  de 
cision  of  the  Supreme  Court  must  have  appeared  not  only 
sound  in  itself,  but  the  single  step  which  had  been  taken  by 
any  department  of  the  government  since  the  close  of  the  war, 
towards  the  restoration  either  of  a  solid  basis  to  the  currency 
or  of  a  solid  foundation  to  the  republic.  It  was  a  moderate 
and  cautious  reassertion  of  the  fundamental  principle  on  which 
the  private  liberties  of  the  American  citizen  had  been  originally 
based.  It  was  the  only  indication  yet  seen  that  Hamilton  and 
Madison  might  have  been  right  in  hoping  that  their  system  of 


48  The  Session.  [July, 

checks  and  balances  would  operate  to  restore  an  equilibrium 
once  disturbed  by  the  exigencies  of  a  troubled  time.  As  such 
it  received  universal  popular  acquiescence.  Hardly  a  murmur 
was  raised  against  it  by  the  press.  Only  in  Congress,  where 
opposition  might  naturally  have  been  expected,  was  there  any 
sign  of  hostility  to  a  movement  which  indeed  was  threatening 
to  the  usurped  power  of  Congress  alone,  and  only  in  the  Sen 
ate,  which  has  always  been,  as  it  always  must  be,  the  furnaee 
of  intrigue  and  aggression,  was  it  expected  that  there  would  be 
any  actual  attack  upon  the  Court. 

The  public  naturally  assumed  that  the  administration  would 
be  glad  to  accept  and  support  this  decision,  not  only  because 
the  interests  of  the  Executive  and  the  Supreme  Court  are  iden 
tical,  nor  only  because  this  special  decision  tended  to  check  the 
arrogant  and  domineering  congressional  power,  which  had  been 
felt  in  a  manner  so  humiliating  by  the  present  Cabinet,  but 
because  the  decision  strengthened  the  declared  policy  of  the 
President  in  regard  to  the  currency,  and  was  in  itself  a  partial 
withdrawal  of  the  entire  government  from  the  f;:lse  position 
into  which  it  had  confessedly  been  forced  by  the  exigencies  of 
war.  Hence,  although  it  was  no  matter  of  surprise  that  Sena 
tors  instantly  declared  that  the  decision  should  be  reversed," 
and  that  no  candidate  favorable  to  the  decision  should  be  con 
firmed  to  either  of  the  vacant  seats  on  the  Supreme  bench,  yet 
a  very  strong  feeling  of  surprise  and  astonishment  was  per 
ceptible  when  gentlemen  supposed  to  be  thoroughly  well  in 
formed  asserted  that  the  President,  the  Secretary  of  the  Treas 
ury,  and  the  Attorney-General  were  agreed  in  considering  the 
decision  as  an  attack  upon  the  policy  of  the  war,  a  denial  of 
necessary  powers  to  Congress,  and  a  Democratic  electioneer 
ing  trick.  And  the  incredulity  was  great  when  authority  above 
any  ordinary  doubt  further  asserted,  on  direct  information 
from  the  White  House,  that  neither  Judge  Bradley  nor  Judge 
Strong  would  have  been  nominated  to  the  bench,  had  it  been 
supposed  that  either  of  them  favored  the  legal-tender  decision. 
These  nominations,  whether  influenced  by  such  a  considera 
tion  or  not,  were  such  as  to  remove  all  doubt  from  Senators' 
minds  in  regard  to  this  particular  difficulty,  while  at  the  same 
time  little  doubt  could  remain  in  the  public  mind  that  a  re- 


1870.]  The  Session.  49 

/•  ' 

versal  obtained  by  introducing  on  the  bench  two  gentlemen 
occupying  the  position  of  Messrs.  Strong  and  Bradley  would 
establish  beyond  dispute  a  precedent  for  packing  the  Court 
whenever  it  suited  Congress  to  do  so,  and  thus  destroying  for 
ever  the  independence  of  the  Judiciary  as  a  co-ordinate  branch 
of  the  American  government. 

Judge  Strong  took  his  seat  on  the  14th  of  March.  Judge 
Bradley  was  confirmed  by  the  Senate  a  week  later,  and  sum 
moned  by  telegraph  to  Washington.  He  took  his  seat  on  the 
23d  of  March.  Two  days  later,  at  the  earliest  possible  mo 
ment,  the  Attorney-General  surprised  the  Court  by  moving  to 
take  up  and  argue  two  cases  formerly  passed  over,  which 
involved  the  principle  of  the  legal-tender  decision. 

In  the  course  of  the  Attorney-General's  remarks  he  spoke 
as  follows :  — 

"This  Court,  at  a  time  when  by  law  it  consisted  of  nine  judges, 
did  by  a  majority  of  four  to  three  enter  its  judgment,  with  two  vacan 
cies  upon  the  bench,  and  it  stands  therefore,  reducing  it  to  its  es 
sence,  that  upon  the  judicial  opinion  of  a  single  man,  whose  voice 
turned  the  majority,  that  great  question  is  adjudicated.  And  if  (which 
is  a  supposable  case)  it  turned  out  that  it  was  an  opinion  about  which 
even  the  deciding  judge  of  the  Court  had  entertained  a  different  opin 
ion  at  some  other  time,  it  would  come  down  to  the  point  that  on  the 
differing  opinions  at  different  times  of  his  life  of  a  single  man,  the 
whole  constitutional  power  of  Congress  ....  was  to  be  subverted." 

"What  answer  this  personal  attack  on  the  Chief  Justice 
would  have  received  had  it  been  made  by  an  Attorney-General 
of  Massachusetts  before  the  Supreme  bench  of  that  State, 
with  Hoar,  C.  J.,  presiding,  must  be  a  mere  matter  of  opinion, 
only  to  be  decided  by  an  appeal  to  that  high  tribunal  under 
the  specified  conditions.  He  would,  however,  have  been  a  rash 
Attorney-General  who  attempted  to  browbeat  a  court  so  con 
stituted,  Nor  is  it  a  question  worth  discussing  whether  the 
opinions  of  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  in  1861  were  the 
same  as  those  of  the  Chief  Justice  in  1870,  unless  the  Attor 
ney-General  meant  to  impute  dishonest  and  culpable  motives 
as  the  cause  of  change  ;  and  if  this  were  in  fact  the  intention, 
the  Chief  Justice  might  probably  have  been  satisfied  with 
pointing  out,  not  to  the  Attorney-General,  but  to  the  Court, 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  4 


50  The  Session.  [July, 

the  passage  in  the  Secretary's  official  Report  of  1862,  the  next 
expression  of  opinion  made  by  him  to  Congress  after  the  adop 
tion  of  legal  tender,  where  he  took  occasion  distinctly  to  avow 
his  opinion  that "  gold  and  silver  are  the  only  permanent  basis, 
standard,  and  measure  of  values  recognized  by  the  Constitu 
tion."  But  though  these  points  are  rather  matters  of  taste 
than  of  reasoning,  in  some  other  respects  the  assertions  of  the 
Attorney-General  went  to  the  verge  of  fair  dealing,  especially 
from  an  officer  who  was  appealing  to  two  new  judges  created  by 
himself,  and  asking  them  to  overthrow  existing  law.  Strictly 
speaking,  he  was  no  doubt  correct  in  saying  that  judgment  was 
entered  while  there  were  two  vacancies  on  the  bench,  and  by  a 
majority  of  four  to  three.  Judgment  was  entered  on  the  7th 
of  February.  But  the  Attorney-General  must  surely  have  been 
aware  of  the  fact,  which  has  since  been  made  public  by  the 
appearance  of  the  8th  Wallace's  Reports,  that  the  decision  in 
the  case  of  Hepburn  against  Griswold  was  settled  so  long  be 
fore  as  November  27,  1869,  and  that  the  decision  itself  was 
read  and  adopted  by  the  Court  on  the  29th  of  January,  by  a 
majority  of  five  to  three,  at  a  time  when  the  Court  by  law  con 
sisted  of  eight  judges,  and  there  was  no  vacancy  on  the  bench. 
If  the  actual  entry  was  postponed  another  week,  it  was  prob 
ably  only  because  the  minority  opinion  was  not  yet  fully  pre 
pared,  so  that  the  Attorney-General,  by  using  this  argument, 
was  in  fact  running  extreme  danger  on  the  one  hand  of  sub 
jecting  Justice  Miller  to  the  unfounded  suspicion  of  having 
purposely  delayed  the  entry,  in  order  to  lay  the  Court  open  to 
this  precise  attack,  and,  on  the  other  hand,  of  subjecting  him 
self,  in  the  minds  of  persons  who  were  not  familiar  with  his 
absolute  and  unconditional  honesty,  to  the  charge  of  acting  in 
collusion  with  Justice  Miller. 

What  occurred  when  the  Court  retired  for  consultation  might 
be  guessed  from  the  subsequent  scene  in  open  Court  on  the 
llth  of  April,  with  clearness  enough  to  leave  little  doubt  as  to 
the  suspicions  the  public,  with  or  without  reason,  would  cer 
tainly  entertain  if  the  Attorney-General  carried  his  purpose. 
Chief  Justice  Chase,  and  Justices  Nelson,  Grier,  and  Field, 
appear  to  have  agreed  in  the  statement  that  the  two  cases 
referred  to  by  the  Attorney-General  had  been  passed  over  by 


1870.]  The  Session.  51 

the  Court  with  the  understanding  that  they  should  abide  the  re 
sult  in  the  case  of  Hepburn  against  Griswold,  and  that  counsel 
had  been  so  ordered.  There  would  seem  to  have  been  no  rea 
sonable  doubt  as  to  the  fact,  and  both  Mr.  Carlisle,  counsel  for 
the/  appellants  in  these  cases,  and  Mr.  Norton,  the  solicitor  for 
the  Court  of  Claims,  from  which  the  appeal  had  been  taken, 
subsequently  informed  the  Court  that  they  had  both  so  under 
stood,  and  had  received  the  order  as  stated.  The  ground 
taken  by  Justices  Miller,  Swayne,  and  Davis  is  not  clearly 
understood,  but  these  judges  must  have  either  rested  on  the 
fact  that  the  order  was  not  recorded,  or  they  must  have  pleaded 
want  of  memory.  It  does  not  appear  that  they  actually  denied 
the  order,  and  it  is  scarcely  possible  that  they  can  have  taken 
such  a  position,  since  it  would  have  been  extremely  embar 
rassing  to  them  to  maintain  it.  It  remained  for  the  new  judges 
to  decide  the  dispute,  and  they  did  accordingly  decide  that  the 
order  had  not  been  given.  As  the  public  might  probably  put 
the  issue,  the  two  new  judges  decided  that  the  understanding 
of  the  Court,  made  long  before  they  came  upon  the  bench,  was 
exactly  the  reverse  of  what  it  had  undoubtedly  been. 

The  Court  therefore  determined,  by  a  majority  of  five  to  four, 
that  the  cases  should  be  argued,  and  already,  on  the  motion  for 
further  delay,  a  scene  was  presented  to  the  public  such  as  had 
rarely,  if  ever  before,  been  offered  by  this  dignified  tribunal.  It 
was  evident  that  the  four  dissenting  judges,  the  late  majority, 
felt  that  they  were  in  the  position  of  criminals,  to  be  tried  by 
their  own  colleagues  at  the  order  of  the  Executive  and  the 
Senate,  and  it  was  equally  evident  that  they  had  made  up  their 
minds  to  resist  the  attack  with  all  their  energy.  If  the  ad 
ministration,  even  with  all  the  overgrown  power  of  Congress 
behind  it,  imagined  that  the  Supreme  Court  could  quietly  sub 
mit  to  such  humiliation  as  awaited  it,  the  administration 
was  mistaken ;  but  if,  as  was  naturally  inferred,  the  govern 
ment  was  prepared  for  and  invited  the  most  desperate  resist 
ance  of  the  minority,  there  was  reason  for  the  deepest  pub 
lic  anxiety.  Unquestionably  the  minority  must  have  resisted 
with  desperation,  and  unquestionably  it  would  have  been 
crushed  by  the  President  and  Congress.  The  most  memorable 
example  in  American  history  of  partisan  attack  on  the  Judi- 


52  The  Session.  [July? 

ciary  was  the  impeachment  of  a  judge  whose  name  and  family 
suggested  an  ominous  precedent  for  a  similar  political  outrage 
at  the  present  day.  And  although  the  time  has  probably  passed 
when  impeachments  were  popular,  the  chance  of  the  present 
Chief  Justice  before  the  present  Congress  would  even  now  be 
a  subject  of  speculation  far  too  delicate  for  a  hasty  opinion. 

Whether  the  administration  as  a  whole  would  have  allowed 
itself  t<o  be  drawn  into  such  a  struggle  may  well  be  doubted, 
but  the  determined  character  of  the  Attorney-  General  leaves 
no  doubt  that  he  would  have  begun  nothing  which  he  did  not 
feel  it  his  duty  to  press  to  the  extremest  logical  conclusions, 
and  he  had  at  this  moment  the  Senate  behind  him.  The  ad 
ministration  might  have  broken  to  pieces,  but  could  not  have 
stopped  a  struggle  pnce  begun.  Hence  many  persons  began  to 
watch  the  course  of  events  with  great  uneasiness,  and  although 
little  was  known  of  the  personal  feelings  of  the  contending  par 
ties,  yet  it  was  obvious  that  the  Executive  was  pressing  with 
extreme  severity  on  the  Court,  and  the  Court  was  already 
split  into  two  hostile  camps.  Even  among  the  people  this 
struggle  had  begun  to  rouse  deep  interest.  Perhaps  the  only 
point  on  which  all  men  and  all  parties  are  agreed  is  that  the 
independence  of  the  Judiciary  ought  to  be  preserved,  and  it 
must  be  remembered  that  the  dominant  political  party  was 
now  on  the  point  of  giving  this  cry  to  its  antagonist.  What 
the  result  would  have  been  on  the  popular  verdict  was  not  for 
an  instant  doubted  by  those  who  had  occasion  to  feel  the  force 
of  the  rising  current  of  opinion. 

Fortunately  for  the  Court,  for  the  administration,  and  for 
the  country,  the  danger,  which  for  a  moment  seemed  inevi 
table,  was  evaded.  On  the  morning  of  the  20th  April,  the  day 
fixed  for  the  hearing,  the  judges  and  the  counsel  went  to  the 
Capitol  ready  to  face  the  issue.  It  was  an  occasion  of  extraor 
dinary  interest,  a  practical  struggle  between  the  dignity  of  the 
Court  and  the  power  of  Congress,  —  an  unequal  match,  in 
which  public  sympathy  could  not  but  cluster  about  the  four 
arraigned  judges.  Ordinary  observers  could  only  think  with 
terror  of  the  irreparable  harm  that  would  result  if  these 
four  judges,  dragged  into  a  political  contest,  should  be  held  up 
by  popular  enthusiasm  as  the  noble  objects  of  a  miserable  per- 


1870.J  The  Session.  53 

secution,  while  the  two  new  justices  became  the  mark  of  vio 
lent  popular  hatred,  and  the  Court  itself,  torn  to  pieces  by 
party  passions,  became  the  centre  of  Apolitical  strife.  At  this 
moment  such  a  result  was  almost  reached.  There  seemed  to 
be  no  hesitation  on  any  side,  either  among  the  three  dissent 
ing  judges,  or  the  two  new  judges,  or  the  four  judges  of  the 
old  majority,  and  least  of  all  in  the  Attorney-General,  whose 
mind  appeared  to  be  bent  with  that  peculiar  intensity  which 
is  the  historical  or  traditional  ideal  of  New  England  character, 
on  converting,  as  he  would  say,  or,  as  others  might  think,  on 
crushing  the  obnoxious  Court. 

All  these  separate  actors,  their  internal  anxieties  or  passions 
concealed  as  well  as  might  be  under  the  calm  and  serious  ex 
terior  which  belongs  to  the  presence  of  justice,  arrived  at  the 
Capitol  only  to  be  confronted  by  what  had  the  appearance  of  a 
stupendous  practical  joke.  The  appellants  had  that  morning 
withdrawn  their  appeal,  and  the  cases  were  no  longer  before 
the  Court.  Probably  every  man  of  the  whole  party  breathed 
freer  after  his  first  moment  of  surprise,  and  yet  the  effect  of 
the  sudden  change  was  to  cover  the  whole  proceeding  with 
ridicule.  Even  the  Attorney- General,  whose  dignity  was  most 
impaired  by  this  trick  of  his  opponents,  must,  after  the  first 
impulse  of  annoyance,  have  enjoyed  the  humor  of  the  situation, 
and  confessed  that  for  once  the  wit  was  not  all  on  his  side. 
But  whether  he  accepted  his  fate  with  good  temper  or  not,  it  was 
soon  evident  that  his  whole  plan  of  procedure  was  hopelessly 
disarranged,  and  although  he  struggled  against  defeat  and 
pressed  another  motion  to  reopen  the  case  of  Hepburn  against 
Griswold,  the  point  seemed  to  have  been  reached  beyond 
which  none  of  the  judges  were  willing  to  go  in  straining  the 
rules  of  the  Court,  and  as  neither  of  the  four  who  made  the 
decision  desired  it  to  be  reopened,  the  Attorney-General's 
motion  was  without  dissent  refused. 

Thus  this  great  peril  was,  by  a  mere  trick,  happily  escaped, 
and  the  Court  was  saved  from  almost  certain  destruction.  But 
its  rescue  was  due  to  no  strength  of  its  own,  to  no  aid  from 
the  Executive,  to  no  mercy  from  either  branch  of  Congress. 
It  was  a  momentary  relief  from  a  pressing  danger,  but  there 
was  nothing  to  indicate  that  the  danger  had  passed  away,  and 


54  The  Session. 

whenever  the  Court  was  again  placed  under  the  necessity  of 
asserting  the  law  as  declared  in  the  Constitution,  it  was  little 
likely  to  be  again  preserved  by  a  trick  of  counsel. 

If  now  from  the  confused  arena  of  internal  politics  the 
reader  turns  to  the  region  of  foreign  affairs,  he  will  find  only  a 
repetition  of  the  same  class  of  phenomena,  offering  little  evi 
dence  of  political  progress,  but  strongly  pointing  to  some  politi 
cal  change  that  cannot  be  avoided  in  a  no  distant  future. 

Foreign  affairs,  so  far  as  they  have  had  immediate  impor 
tance  during  the  last  year,  may  be  divided  under  two  heads. 
In  regard  to  each  of  these  divisions  the  single  controlling  inter 
est  has  been  found  in  the  extension  of  the  national  territory. 
There  is  no  other  real  point  at  issue  than  this,  in  the  foreign 
relations  of  the  United  States,  whatever  individuals  may  sup 
pose,  and  the  two  heads  into  which  this  general  subject  of  ter 
ritorial  enlargement  divides  itself  are  only  distinct  ip  so  far 
as  one  embraces  all  possible  extension  to  the  north ;  the  other, 
all  movement  towards  the  tropics. 

Of  all  the  departments  of  the  government,  that  of  foreign 
affairs  has  been,  on  the  whole,  most  steady  and  uniform  in  its 
policy  since  the  earliest  days  of  the  republic.  It  has  acted 
upon  a  single  general  principle,  which  has  slowly  developed 
itself  with  the  national  progress  until  now  it  is  rapidly  ap 
proaching  its  possible  limits,  —  the  steady  absorption  of  all 
the  neighboring  territory.  The  policy  of  Mr.  Seward  was 
based  upon  this  fixed  idea,  which,  under  his  active  direction, 
assumed  a  development  that  even  went  somewhat  too  far  and 
too  fast  for  the  public,  and,  in  consequence,  although  it  was 
understood  that  President  Grant  was  in  general  sympathy 
with  Mr.  Seward,  yet  the  new  administration  came  into  power 
under  influences  that  amounted  to  a  reaction. 

Little  need  here  be  said  in  regard  to  the  questions  in  dispute 
with  England,  except  that  time  has  only  made  the  fact  more 
and  more  clear  that  the  only  essential  obstacle  to  a  settlement 
is  the  English  occupation  of  Canada.  The  effort  of  Mr.  Sew 
ard  to  settle  the  claims  by  arbitration,  and  to  leave  the  Cana 
dian  question  to  seek  a  settlement  in  the  natural  course  of 
events,  was  rejected  by  the  Senate  mainly  because  the  Senate 
meant  that  the  first  issue  should  be  retained  as  an  instrument 


1870.]  The  Session.  55 

to  force  the  solution  of  the  last.  Without  any  comment  upon 
the  dignity  or  elevation  of  this  policy,  or  upon  the  manner  and 
spirit  in  which  it  has  been  carried  out  in  practice,  it  is.  enough 
to  say  that  the  new  administration  on  assuming  office  found 
the  policy  already  determined  by  the  Senate,  and  accepted  it 
as  a  matter  in  regard  to  which  the  Executive  was  not  con 
sulted  and  had  ,no  voice.  The  entire  subject  may  be  here  dis 
missed  with  the  general  remark,  which  time  may  be  trusted  to 
verify,  that  every  separate  item  of  American  relations  with 
England  or  her  colonies,  large  or  small,  —  whether  it  was  a 
question  of  treaties,  of  claims,  of  boundaries,  of  neutrality,  of 
Fenians,  or  of  coal  and  lumber,  —  whether  treated  by  the  Ex 
ecutive,  by  the  Senate,  by  the  House,  or  by  individual  members 
of  the  entire  government,  —  under  every  form  and  every  dis 
guise,  has  been  primarily  and  principally  considered,  subject  to 
the  rules  of  international  custom,  in  its  separate  bearing  on  the 
subject  of  annexation.  Thus  at  least  some  progress  has  been 
made  towards  simplifying  the  issues,  and  although  the  Ameri 
can  government  can  scarcely  say  in  so  many  words  that  it  is 
willing  to  settle  its  claims  on  these  terms,  and  on  these  terms 
alone,  and  although  if  it  did  say  this,  there  is  no  power  in  the  • 
government  upon  which  England,  since  her  last  year's  experi 
ence  and  the  failure  of  the  St.  Thomas  treaty,  could  rely  for 
a  pledge  that  the  engagement  would  be  kept,  yet  at  least,  even 
though  no  distinct  path  out  of  the  difficulty  has  thus  far  been 
discovered,  it  is  clear  in  what  direction  the  path  must  lie,  and 
that  sooner  or  later,  probably  pacifically,  but  at  any  rate  inevit 
ably,  the  end  will  be  reached  by  its  means.  This  opinion  is 
based  upon  no  private  sources  of  information,  on  nothing  that 
is  secret  or  unknown  to  all  the  world.  He  would  be  a  poor 
observer  who  could  not  catch  the  general  drift  of  personal  as 
well  as  public  influences  from  indications  which  are  as  public 
as  the  press  itself. 

The  Northern  policy  was,  therefore,  simple  enough,  and  Mr. 
Fish,  who  was  personally  not  responsible  for  its  creation,  car 
ried  out  his  share  of  it  with  a  tact  and  good  temper  which 
gained  for  him  and  for  the  administration  general  and  even 
universal  credit.  But  the  issues  involved  on  the  side  of  the 
tropics  were  far  more  difficult,  and  the  variance  of  opinion  was 


56  The  Session. 

far  more  strongly  marked.  From  the  first  moment  of  the  new 
administration  the  policy  of  active  interference  in  the  Antilles 
was  forced  upon  its  attention  in  a  manner  which  left  no  chance 
of  escape.  The  St.  Thomas  treaty,  under  which  a  popular 
vote  had  already  been  taken  and  the  island  formally  trans 
ferred  to  an  authorized  agent  of  the  United  States  government, 
had  been  for  some  six  months  reposing  on  the  table  of  the 
Senate  Committee  of  Foreign  Relations.  If  the  government 
meant /to  pursue  a  policy  of  annexation  in  the  Antilles,  it  was 
peculiarly  bound,  by  every  obligation  of  international  decency 
and  of  common  self-respect,  to  begin  with  the  ratification  of 
this  treaty.  Indeed,  there  may  be  a  grave  doubt  whether  the 
obligation  to  ratify  was  not  absolute  and  irrespective  of  condi 
tions,  but  in  any  case  the  refusal  to  ratify  this  treaty  was  only 
to  be  excused  on  the  understanding  that  it  implied  a  reversal 
of  the  policy  of  annexation.  Whether  this  excuse  was  ever 
actually  offered  to  the  Danish  government  as  a  bar  to  its 
remonstrances  is  a  fact  which  could  be  ascertained  only  by  ref 
erence  to  the  Danish  government  itself,  nor  is  it  a  question  of 
real  importance.  The  essential  point  is  that  a  government 
should  act  with  self-respect  and  honest  intentions.  The  refu 
sal  to  ratify  the  St.  Thomas  treaty  was  a  strong  measure  which 
gravely  compromised  the  dignity  of  the  government  and  found 
its  only  excuse  in  the  firm  conviction  that  any  annexation  to 
the  southward  of  the  continent  was  a  danger  and  a  mistake. 
Moreover,  it  is  absurd  to  suppose  that  the  Senate  can  have  one 
policy  and  the  Executive  another.  For  the  policy  that  prevails 
the  whole  government  must  be  held  responsible,  and  the  Exec 
utive  cannot  throw  off  this  responsibility. 

If  a  new  tendency  to  check  the  national  extension  was 
brought  to  light  by  this  treatment  of  the  St.  Thomas  treaty,  it 
was  made  still  more  conspicuous  in  regard  to  Cuba  by  the  vol 
untary  action  of  the  Executive.  It  was  well  known  that  the 
President  personally  leaned  towards  interference  in  Cuban 
affairs,  and  that  his  Secretary  of  War,  General  Rawlins,  was 
earnest  in  his  support  of  the  Cuban  insurgents.  Nevertheless 
it  was  evident  that  the  influence  of  Mr.  Fish  had  succeeded  in 
checking  this  bent  of  the  Executive,  and  that  the  Secretary 
had,  with  his  usual  good  sense,  saved  the  country  from  a  very 


1870.]  The  Session.  57 

embarrassing  complication.  Further,  it  was  understood  that, 
in  order  to  obviate  the  want  of  a  harbor  in  the  West  Indies, 
the  St.  Thomas  treaty  being  practically  rejected,  the  Bay  of 
Samana  would  be  permanently  leased  and  occupied  as  a  naval 
station.  All  these  movements  indicated  that  a  new  policy  had 
been  adopted  by  the  government  in  regard  to  its  southern  rela 
tions,  and  that  after  mature  deliberation  it  had  been  finally 
decided  that  the  present  administration  would  assume  as  the 
basis  of  all  its  future  connection  with  the  Antilles  the  princi 
ple  which  was  soon  to  find  utterance  in  the  concise  formula : 
"  No  annexation  within  the  tropics." 

Suddenly  the  San  Domingo  treaty  made  its  appearance. 
Whence  it  came,  why  it  was  made,  what  influences  supported 
it,  are  matters  which  no  one  has  hitherto  explained.  One 
point  alone  was  clear,  and  this  was  that  the  San  Domingo 
treaty  stood  in  flat  opposition  to  the  entire  policy  pursued 
down  to  that  moment  by  the  administration  towards  the  West 
Indies,  and  it  is  as  certain  as  anything  resting  on  mere  a  priori 
reasoning  can  be,  that  neither  Mr.  Fish  nor  his  colleagues  a$  a 
body  could  possibly  have  sympathized  in  the  proposed  annexa 
tion,  which  was  contrary  to  all  their  modes  of  thought  and  to 
their  political  education.  No  one  would  have  believed  them 
had  they  asserted  their  approval.  No  one  did  believe  in  Mr. 
Fish's  earnestness,  even  though  he  loyally  and  energetically 
supported  the  treaty.  The  inference  was  only  too  obvious, 
and  it  is  one  which  the  public  had  a  right  to  draw,  that  as 
heretofore  Mr.  Fish  and  his  colleagues  had  succeeded  in 
bringing  the  President  over  to  their  point  of  view  in  regard 
to  Cuba  and  St.  Thomas,  so  the  President  had  now  broken 
through  the  restraint  and  overruled  Mr.  Fish  in  regard  to  San 
Domingo. 

A  foreign  policy  so  unsteady  as  this  could  scarcely  be  ex 
pected  to  command  respect,  although  respect  was  precisely 
what  the  Cabinet  most  needed  to  command.  Whatever  the 
administration  might  choose  to  do,  it  was  little  likely  that  the 
Senate  would  follow  its  changes  of  opinion,  and  it  must  be 
allowed  that  for  once  the  Senate  had  the  strength  of  argument 
as  well  as  of  power  on  its  side,  while  the  administration  put 
itself  in  a  position  where  success  or  failure  was  almost  equally 


58  The  Session. 

disastrous.  Senator  Sumner  again  stood  forward  to  assume 
the  control  and  direction  of  foreign  affairs.  He  again  wielded 
the  power  of  the  Senate  and  declared  the  policy  of  the  govern 
ment.  The  President  and  Mr.  Fish  struggled  in  vain  against 
this  omnipotent  senatorial  authority,  although  the  President 
went  so  far  as  td  make  the  issue  one  of  personal  weight,  and 
condescended  to  do  the  work  of  a  lobbyist  almost  on  the  very 
floor  of  the  Senate  Chamber,  using  his  personal  influence  to  an 
extent  scarcely  ever  known  in  American  experience,  and  offer 
ing  a  curious  commentary  on  his  own  theory  of  executive  duties. 
Mr.  Sumner  flung  them  both  aside  and  issued  liis  orders  with 
almost  the  authority  of  a  Roman  triumvir. 

What  is  to  be  the  ultimate  result  of  this  contest,  so  far  as  re 
gards  the  foreign  policy,  is  a  subject  which  may  be  left  for  future 
annual  Reviews  to  discuss,  as  the  situation  of  affairs  becomes 
more  clearly  determined.  There  is  room  for  more  than  a  doubt 
as  to  the  possibility  of  checking  the  growth  of  the  country  by 
the  adoption  of  any  arbitrary  law  in  regard  to  the  tropics,  and 
it  seems  most  probable  that  the  resistance  now  made  to  this 
annexation  of  countries  little  fitted  to  enter  into  the  duties  of 
American  States  will  ultimately  yield  to  the  growing  public 
indifference  to  the  States  themselves.  But  from  another  point  - 
of  view  this  whole  affair  had  a  still  deeper  significance,  as  show 
ing  an  unsteadiness  and  a  spasmodic  irregularity  of  action  in 
the  Executive  which,  when  contrasted  with  the  opposite  quali 
ties  displayed  by  the  Senate,  indicate  clearly  enough  that  the 
regular  diminution  of  executive  authority  which  was  first 
clearly  marked  under  Andrew  Johnson,  has  not  been  checked, 
but  on  the  contrary  has  been  aggravated  by  the  appearanpe  of 
some  internal  weakness  never  before  known  in  the  history 
of  American  administrations.  The  success  of  any  executive 
measure  must  now  be  bought  by  the  use  of  the  public  patron 
age  in  influencing  the  action  of  legislators.  The  Executive  has 
yielded  without  a  protest  to  this  necessity  which  it  has  helped 
to  establish.  Senators  already  claim  special  executive  offices 
as  their  private  property,  and  their  claim  is  conceded.  A 
Senator  from  Michigan  claims  a  consulate  in  India ;  a  Senator 
from  Maine  claims  a  consulate  in  England  ;  a  Senator  from 
Kansas  claims  the  mission  to  the  Hague,  and  as  proof  of  his 


1870.]  The  Session.  59 

right  of  property  nominates  the  Clerk  of  his  Committee  to  the 
post.  A  Senator  who  desires  the  removal  of  an  excellent 
officer  does  not  scruple  to  accuse  a  member  of  the  Cabinet  of 
interference  with  his  patronage  if  his  request  is  denied.  Sena 
tors  do  not  hesitate  to  insult  the  President  by  rejecting  one 
nomination  to  the  Supreme  Court  because  the  candidate  as 
member  of  the  Cabinet  has  failed  to  reach  their  own  standard 
of  polished  manners  ;  nor  to  intimate  their  firm  intention  of 
rejecting  any  required  number  of  others  unless  the  candidates 
are  prepared  to  reverse,  as  judges  of  the  Supreme  Court,  the 
established  constitutional  law  which  limits  the  powers  of  Con 
gress.  Notwithstanding  the  exceptional  case  of  San  Domingo, 
the  Executive  has  practically  abandoned  to  the  Senate  the 
treaty-making  power.  The  Executive  has  joined  with  Congress 
in  assuming  the  powers  reserved  to  the  States,  and  in  attack 
ing  the  authority  of  the  Supreme  Court,  while  the  precedent  of 
the  legal  tender  action  appears  to  warrant  the  belief  that  Con 
gress  and  the  Executive  have  also  established  the  principle  that 
they  hold  between  them  the  power  to  suspend  private  rights, 
not  merely  during  war,  but  during  will. 

But  this  is  not  all.  Not  only  has  the  whole  internal  fabric 
of  the  government  been  violently  wrenched  from  its  original 
balance  until  Congress  has  assumed  authority  which  it  was 
never  intended  to  hold,  but  as  the  country  grows  and  the  press 
ure  of  business  increases,  the  efficiency  of  the  machine  grows 
steadily  less.  New  powers,  new  duties,  new  responsibilities, 
new  burdens  of  every  sort,  are  incessantly  crowding  upon  the 
government  at  the  very  moment  when  it  finds  itself  unequal  to 
managing  the  limited  powers  it  is  accustomed  to  wield.  Re 
sponsibility  no  longer  exists  at  Washington.  There  is  not  a 
department  of  the  Executive  which  does  nofc  say,  with  truth,  that 
it  cannot  deal  with  the  questions  before  it  because  Congress 
neglects  legislation.  If  members  of  Congress  are  charged  with 
responsibility  for  the  neglect,  they  reply  that  the  fault  is  not 
theirs ;  that  the  action  of  Congress  is  wholly  in  the  hands 
of  committees  which  constitute  small,  independent,  executive 
councils  ;  that  some  of  these  committees  are  arbitrary,  some 
timid  ;  some  overpoweringly  strong,  some  ridiculously  weak ; 
some  factious,  some  corrupt.  The  House  has  little  or  no 


60  The  Session. 

practical  control  over  the  course  of  business.  The  rules  have 
become  so  complicated  as  to  throw  independent  members 
entirely  into  the  background.  The  amount  of  business  has 
become  so  enormous  as  to  choke  the  channels  provided  for  it. 
In  the  Senate  there  is  greater  power,  less  confusion,  and  more 
efficiency,  but  on  the  other  hand  there  is  more  personal  jeal 
ousy  and  factiousness.  In  both  Houses  all  trace  of  responsi 
bility  is  lost,  and  while  the  Executive  fumes  with  impatience 
or  resigns  itself  with  the  significant  consolation  that  it  is  not 
to  blame,  that  this  is  the  people's  government  and  the  peo 
ple  may  accept  the  responsibility,  the  members  of  the  lower 
House  are  equally  ready  with  the  excuse  that  they  are  not 
responsible  for  the  action  of  Senators,  and  Senators,  being 
responsible  to  no  power  under  Heaven  except  their  party 
organizations,  which  they  control,  are  able  to  obtain  precisely 
what  legislation  answers  their  personal  objects,  or  their  indi 
vidual  conceptions  of  the  public  good. 

Under  the  conditions  of  fifty  years  ago,  when  the  United 
States  was  a  mere  child  among  nations,  and  before  railways 
and  telegraphs  had  concentrated  the  social  and  economical 
forces  of  the  country  into  a  power  never  imagined  by  past  gen 
erations,  a  loose  and  separately  responsible  division  of  govern 
ment  suited  the  stage  of  national  growth,  and  was  sufficiently 
strong  to  answer  the  requirements  of  the  public.  All  indica 
tions  now  point  to  the  conclusion  that  this  system  is  outgrown. 
The  government  does  not  govern ;  Congress  is  inefficient,  and 
shows  itself  more  and  more  incompetent,  as  at  present  consti 
tuted,  to  wield  the  enormous  powers  that  are  forced  upon  it, 
while  the  Executive,  in  its  full  enjoyment  of  theoretical  inde 
pendence,  is  practically  deprived  of  its  necessary  strength  by 
the  jealousy  of  the  Legislature.  Without  responsibility,  direct, 
incessant,  and  continuous,  no  government  is  practicable  over 
forty  millions  of  people  and  an  entire  continent,  and  no  respon 
sibility  exists  at  Washington.  Every  one  who  has  the  least 
acquaintance  with  the  process  of  American  government  knows 
that  the  public  business  is  not  properly  performed. 

Meanwhile,  reformers  are  straining  every  nerve  to  carry  such 
a  reform  in  the  tariff  as  may  make  the  system,  not  indeed 
good,  —  they  cannot  even  hope  this,  —  but  a  shade  less  fla- 


1870.]  The  Session.  61 

grantly  absurd,  less  ridiculously  mediaeval,  less  abominably 
dishonest,  than  it  now  is.  Perhaps,  as  the  result  of  unremitted 
labor  extended  over  a  period  of  years,  they  may  ultimately 
succeed  in  carrying  their  point.  The  national  government 
may  at  last  be  obliged  to  drop  the  unhealthy  children  whose 
precocious  birth  and  growth  it  has  stimulated  by  drugs  and 
drams,  and  their  corrupt  political  influence  may  vanish  from 
the  Capitol.  But  while  the  whole  reforming  strength  is  labori 
ously  concentrated  on  the  people,  with  no  further  object  than 
to  obtain  the  physical  force  to  contest  the  possession  of  the 
national  government  with  a  single  creature  of  the  govern 
ment's  own  creation,  the  government  all  the  while  continues 
to  call  into  being  other  creatures  far  more  fatal  to  its  integrity 
than  those  which  already  control  it.  While  the  reformers  in 
Congress  rejoice  at  their  victory  in  carrying  a  small  reduction 
on  pig-iron,  or  regret  the  omnipotence  of  the  steel  lobbyists, 
they  turn  about  in  their  seats  and  create  by  a  single  stroke  of 
special  legislation  a  new  Pacific  railway,  an  imperishable  cor 
poration,  with  its  own  territory,  an  empire  within  a  republic, 
more  powerful  than  a  sovereign  State,  and  absolutely  incon 
sistent  with  the  purity  of  republican  institutions,  or  with  the 
safety  of  any  government,  whether  democratic  or  autocratic., 
While  one  monopoly  is  attacked  two  are  created ;  while  old 
and  true  believers  in  republican  purity  and  simplicity  are  en 
gaged  with  desperate  earnestness  in  resisting  a  single  corrup 
tion,  they  are  with  their  own  hands  stimulating  the  growth  of 
many  more.  Nor  is  the  fault  theirs.  The  people  require  it, 
and  even  if  the  people  were  opposed,  yet,  with  the  prodigious 
development  of  corporate  and  private  wealth,  resistance  must 
be  vain. 

Two  points,  separate  and  distinct  to  outward  appearance,  but 
closely  connected  in  reality,  have  forced  themselves  upon  the 
discussion  proposed  by  this  Review.  The  first  has  consisted 
in  the  general  evidence  which  tends  to  show  that  the  original 
basis  of  reserved  powers  on  which  the  Constitution  was  framed 
has  yielded  and  is  yielding  to  natural  pressure1,  and  the  grad 
ual  concession  of  power  to  the  central  government  has  already 
gone  so  far  as  to  leave  little  doubt  of  the  conclusion  that  the 


62  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  [Juty? 

great  political  problem  of  all  ages  cannot,  at  least  in  a  commu 
nity  like  that  of  the  future  America,  be  solved  by  the  theory 
of  the  American  constitution.  The  second  has  rested  on  the 
correlative  evidence  which  points  sharply  to  the  conviction 
that  the  system  of  separate  responsibility  realized  in  the 
mechanism  of  the  American  government  as  a  necessary  conse 
quence  of  its  jealous  restriction  of  substantial  powers,  will 
inevitably  yield,  as  its  foundation  has  yielded,  to  the  mere 
pressure  of  necessity.  The  result  is  not  one  on  which  it  is 
pleasant  to  look.  It  is  not  one  which  the  country  is  prepared 
to  accept,  or  will  be  soon  in  a  temper  to  discuss.  It  is  not  one 
which  it  will  hear  announced  by  its  professional  politicians, 
who  are  not  greatly  accustomed  to  telling  unpleasant  truths. 
Nor  is  it  here  intended  to  point  out,  or  even  to  suggest,  the  prin 
ciples  of  reform.  The  discussion  of  so  large  a  subject  is  mat 
ter  for  a  lifetime,  and  will  occupy  generations.  The  American 
statesman  or  philosopher  who  would  enter  upon  this  great 
debate  must  make  his  appeal,  not  to  the  public  opinion  of  a 
day  or  of  a  nation,,  however  large  or  intelligent,  but  to  the 
minds  of  the  few  persons  who,  in  every  age  and  in  all  coun 
tries,  attach  their  chief  interest  to  the  working  out  of  the 
great  problems  of  human  society  under  all  their  varied  con-- 
ditions. 

HENRY  BROOKS  ADAMS. 


ART.  III.  —  COMPETITIVE  EXAMINATIONS  IN  CHINA. 

THE  reform  proposed  in  the  organization  of  our  civil  service, 
which  contemplates  the  introduction  of  a  system  of  competi 
tive  examinations,  makes  an  inquiry  into  the  experience  of 
other  nations  timely.  England,  France,  and  Prussia  have  each 
made  use  of  competitive  examinations  in  some  branches  of 
their  public  service.  In  all  these  states  the  result  has  been 
uniform,  —  a  conviction  that  such  a  system,  so  far  as  it  can 
be  employed,  affords  the  best  method  of  ascertaining  the  quali 
fications  of  candidates  for  government  employment.  But  in 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  'China.  .   63 

these  countries  the  experiment  is  of  recent  date  and  of  lim 
ited  application.  We  must  look  farther  East  if  we  would  see 
the  system  working  on  a  scale  sufficiently  large  and  through 
a  period  sufficiently  extended  to  afford  us  a  full  exhibition 
of  its  advantages  and  defects. 

It  is  in  China  that  its  merits  have  been  tested  in  the  most 
satisfactory  manner ;  and  if  in  this  instance  we  should  profit 
by  their  experience  it  would  not  be  the  first  lesson  we  have 
learned  from  the  Chinese  nor  the  last  that  they  are  capable  of 
giving  us.  It  is  to  them  that  we  are  indebted,  among  other 
obligations,  for  the  mariner's  compass,  for  gunpowder,  and 
probably  also  for  a  remote  suggestion  of  the  art  of  printing. 
These  arts  have  been  of  the  first  importance  in  their  bearing 
on  the  advancement  of  society,  —  one  of  them  having  effected 
a  complete  revolution  in  the  character  of  modern  warfare, 
while  the  others  have  imparted  a  mighty  impulse  /to  intellec 
tual  culture  and  commercial  enterprise.  Nor  is  it  .too  much  to 
affirm,  that,  if  we  should  adopt  the  Chinese  method  of  testing 
the  ability  of  candidates,  and  of  selecting  the  best  men  for  the 
service  of  the  state,  the  change  it  would  effect  in  our  civil 
administration  would  be  not  less  beneficial  than  those  that 
have  been  brought  about  by  the  discoveries  in  the  arts  to 
which  I  have  referred. 

The  bare  suggestion  may  perhaps  provoke  a  smile ;  but  does 
any  one  smile  at  the  idea  that  we  might  improve  our  polity  by 
studying  the  institutions  of  Egypt,  Rome,  or  Greece  ?  Are, 
then,  the  arrangements  of  a  government  that  arose  with  the 
earliest  of  those  states,  and  still  exists  in  undecaying  vigor,  to 
be  passed  by  as  undeserving  of  attention  ?  The  long  duration 
of  the  Chinese  government  and  the  vast  population  to  which 
it  has  served  to  secure  a  fajr  measure  of  prosperity  are  phe 
nomena  that  challenge  admiration.  Why  should  it  be  consid 
ered  derogatory  to  our  civilization  to  copy  an  institution  which 
is  confessedly  the  masterpiece  in  that  skilful  mechanism,  —  the 
balance-wheel  that  regulates  the  working  of  that  wonderful 
machinery  ? 

In  the  arts  which  we  have  borrowed  from  the  Chinese  we 
have  not  been  servile  imitators.  In  every  case  we  have  made 
improvements  that  astonish  the  original  inventors.  We  em- 


64  -  Competitive  Examinations  in  China. 

ploy  movable  type,  apply  steam  and  electricity  to  printing, 
use  the  needle  as  a  guide  over  seas  which  no  junk  would  have 
ventured  to  traverse,  and  construct  artillery  such  as  the  invent 
ors  of  gunpowder  never  dreamed  of.  Would  it  be  otherwise 
with  a  transplanted  competitive  system  ?  Should  we  not  be 
able  to  purge  it  of  certain  defects  that  adhere  to  it  in  China 
and  to  render  it  productive  of  good  results  which  it  fails  to 
yield  in  its  native  climate  ?  I  think,  therefore,  that  I  shall 
serve  a  better  purpose  than  the  simple  gratification  of  curios 
ity  if  I  devote  a  brief  space  to  the  consideration  of  the  most 
admirable  institution  of  the  Chinese  empire.  « 

Its  primary  object  was  to  provide  men  of  ability  for  the  ser 
vice  of  the  state,  and, 'whatever  else  it  may  have  failed  to 
accomplish,  it  is  impossible  to  deny  that  it  has  fulfilled  its  spe 
cific  end,  in  a  remarkable  degree.  The  mandarins  of  China 
are  almost  without  exception  the  choicest  specimens  of  the  edu 
cated  classes.  Alike  in  the  capital  and  in  the  provinces,  it  is 
the  mandarins  that  take  the  lead  in  every  kind  of  literary 
enterprise.  It  is  to  them  the  Emperor  looks  to  instruct  as 
well  as  to  govern  his  people ;  and  it  is  to  them  that  the  pub 
lishers  look  for  additions  to  the  literature  of  the  nation, — 
nine  tenths  of  the  new  books  being  written  by  mandarins. 
In  their  social  meetings,  their  conversation  abounds  in  clas 
sical  allusion ;  and  instead  of  after-dinner  speeches,  they  are 
accustomed  to  amuse  themselves  with  the  composition  of  im 
promptu  verses,  which  they  throw  off  with  incredible  facility. 
It  is  their  duty  to  encourage  the  efforts  of  students,  to  preside 
at  the  public  examinations,  and  to  visit  the  public  schools,  — 
to  promote,  in  short,  by  example  as  well  as  precept,  the  inter 
ests  of  education.  Scarcely  anything  is  deemed  a  deeper  dis 
grace  than  for  a  magistrate  to  be  found  incompetent  for  this 
department  of  his  official  duties.  So  identified,  indeed,  are  the 
mandarins  with  all  that  constitutes  the  intellectual  life  of  the 
Chinese  people,  that  foreigners  have  come  to  regard  them  as 
a  favored  caste,  like  the  Brahmins  of  India,  or  as  a  distinct 
order  enjoying  a  monopoly  of  learning,  like  the  priesthood  in 
Egypt. 

Nothing  could  be  further  from  the  truth.  Those  stately  offi 
cials  for  whom  the  people  make  way  with  such  awe-struck 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  65 

deference,  as  they  pass  along  the  street  with  embroidered  robes 
and  imposing  retinue,  are  not  possessors  of  hereditary  rank, 
neither  do  they  owe  their  elevation  to  the  favor  of  their  sover 
eign,  nor  yet  to  the  suffrages  of  their  fellow-subjects.  They 
are  self-elected,  and  the  people  regard  them  with  the  deeper 
respect,  because  they  know  that  they  have  earned  their  position 
by  intellectual  effort.  What  can  be  more  truly  democratic 
than  thus  to  offer  to  all  "  the  inspiration  of  a  fair  opportunity  "  ? 
In  this  genuine  democracy  China  stands  unapproached  among 
the  nations  of  the  earth ;  for  whatever  imperfections  may 
attach  to  her  social  organization  or  to  her  political  system,  it 
must  be  acknowledged  that  China  has  devised  the  most  effect 
ual  method  for  encouraging  effort  and  rewarding  merit.  Here 
at  least  is  one  country  where  wealth  is  not  allowed  to  raise  its 
possessor  to  the  seat  of  power ;  where  the  will  even  of  an  em 
peror  cannot  bestow  its  offices  on  uneducated  favorites ;  and 
where  the  caprice  of  the  multitude  is  not  permitted  to  confer 
the  honors  of  the  state  on  incompetent  demagogues. 

The  institution  that  accomplishes  these  results  is  not  an  in 
novation  on  the  traditional  policy  of  the  empire.  It  runs  back 
in  its  essential  features  to  the  earliest  period  of  recorded  history. 
The  adherence  of  the  Chinese  to  it  through  so  many  ages  well 
illustrates  the  conservative  element  in  the  national  character ; 
while  the  important  changes  it  has  undergone  prove  that  this 
people  is  not  by  any  means  so  fettered  by  tradition  as  to  be 
incapable  of  welcoming  improvements. 

The  germ  from  which  it  sprung  was  a  maxim  of  the  ancient 
sages,  expressed  in  four  syllables,  K'd  hienjin  neng-,  —  "  Employ 
the  able  and  promote  the  worthy  " ;  and  examinations  were 
resorted  to  as  affording  the  best  test  of  ability  and  worth.  Of 
Yushun,  that  model  emperor  of  remote  antiquity,  who  lived 
about  B.  C.  2200,  it  is  recorded  that  he  examined  his  officers 
every  third  year,  and  after  three  examinations  either  gave  them 
promotion  or  dismissed  them  from  the  service.  On  what  sub 
jects  he  examined  them,  at  a  time  when  letters  were  but  newly 
invented,  and  when  books  had  as  yet  no  existence,  we  are  not 
told  ;  neither  are  we  informed  whether  he  subjected  candidates 
to  any  test  previous  to  appointment ;  yet  the  mere  fact  of  such 
a  periodical  examination  established  a  precedent  which  has  con- 

VOL.  exi. — NO.  228.  5 


66  Competitive  Examinations  in  China. 

tinued  to  be  observed  to  the  present  day.  Every  third  year  the 
government  holds  a  great  examination  for  the  trial  of  candi 
dates,  and  every  fifth  year  makes  a  formal  inquisition  into  the 
record  of  its  civil  functionaries.  The  latter  is  a  poor  substitute 
for  the  ordeal  of  public  criticism  to  which  officials  are  exposed 
in  a  country  enjoying  a  free  press ;  but  the  former,  as  we  shall 
have  occasion  to  show,  is  thorough  of  its  kind,  and  severely 
impartial. 

More  than  a  thousand  years  after  the  above  date,  at  the  com 
mencement  of  the  Chan  dynasty,  B.  C.  1115,  the  government 
was  accustomed  to  examine  candidates  as  well -as  officers  ;  and 
this  time  we  are  not  left  in  doubt  as.  to  the  nature  of  the  ex 
amination.  The  Chinese  had  become  a  cultivated  people,  and 
we  are  informed  that  all  candidates  for  office  were  required  to 
give  proof  of  their  acquaintance  with  the  five  arts,  —  music, 
archery,  horsemanship,  writing,  and  arithmetic  ;  and  to  be 
thoroughly  versed  in  the  rites  and  ceremonies  of  public  and 
social  life,  —  an  accomplishment  that  ranked  as  a  sixth  art. 
These  "  six  arts,"  expressed  in  the  concise  formula  li,  yo,  shay, 
yu,  shu,  su,  comprehended  the  sum-total  of  a  liberal  education 
at  that  period,  and  remind  us  of  the  trivium  and  quadrivium 
of  the  mediaeval  schools. 

Under  the  dynasty  of  Han,  after  the  lapse  of  another  thou 
sand  years,  we  find  the  range  of  subjects  for  the  civil- service 
examinations  largely  extended.  The  Confucian  Ethics  had 
become  current,  and  a  moral  standard  was  regarded  in  the 
selection  of  the  competitors,  —  the  district  magistrates  being 
required  to  send  up  to  the  capital  such  men  as  had  acquired  a 
reputation  for  hiao  and  lien,  —  "  filial  piety  "  and  "  integrity,"  — 
the  Chinese  rightly  considering  that  the  faithful  performance 
of  domestic  and  social  duties  is  the  best  guaranty  for  fidelity 
in  public  life.  These  hiao-lien,  these  "  filial  sons  and  honest 
subjects,"  whose  moral  character  had  been  sufficiently  attested, 
were  now  subjected  to  trial  in  respect  to  their  intellectual  quali 
fications.  The  trial  was  twofold,  —  first,  as  to  their  skill  in 
the  "  six  arts  "  already  mentioned  ;  and,  secondly,  as  to  their 
familiarity  with  one  or  more  of  the  following  subjects :  the 
civil  law,  .military  affairs,  agriculture,  the  administration  of  the 
revenue,  and  the  geography  of  the  empire  with  special  reference 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  67 

to  the  state  of  the  water  communications.  This  was  an  im 
mense  advance  on  the  meagre  requirements  of  the  more  ancient 
dynasties. 

Passing  over  another  thousand  years,  we  come  to  the  era  of 
the  Tangs  and  the  Sungs,  when  we  find  the  standard  of  literary 
attainment  greatly  elevated,  the  graduates  arranged  in  'three 
classes,  and  officials  in  nine,  —  a  classification  which  is  still 
retained. 

Arriving  at  the  close  of  the  fourth  millennium,  under  the 
sway  of  the  Mings  and  the  Tsings  of  the  present  day,  we  find 
the  simple  trials  instituted  by  Shun  expanded  into  a  colossal 
system,  which  may  well  claim  to  he  the  growth  of  four  thou 
sand  years.  It  still  exhibits  the  features  that  were  prominent 
in  its  earlier  stages,  —  the  u  six  arts,"  the  u  five  studies,"  and 
the  "  three  degrees  "  remaining  as  records  of  its  progressive  de 
velopment.  But  the  "  six  arts  "  are  not  what  they  once  were  ; 
and  the  admirers  of  antiquity  complain  that  examinations  are 
sadly  superficial  as  compared  with  those  of  the  olden  time, 
when  competitors  were  required  to  ride  a  race,  "to  shoot  at  a 
target,  and  to  sing  songs  of  their  own  composition  to  the  ac 
companiment  of  their  own  guitars.  In  these  degenerate  days 
examiners  are  satisfied  with  odes  in  praise  of  music  and  essays 
on  the  archery  and  horsemanship  of  the  ancients. 

Scholarship  is  a  very  different  thing  now  from  what  it  was 
in  those  ruder  ages,  when  books  were  few,  and  the  harp,  the 
bow,  and  the  saddle  divided  the  student's  time  with  the  oral 
instructions  of  some  famous  master.  Each  century  has  added 
to  the  weight  of  his  burdens  ;  and  to  the  "  heir  of  all  the  ages  " 
each  passing  generation  has  bequeathed  a  legacy  of  toil. 
Doomed  to  die  among  the  deposits  of  a  buried  world,  and 
contending  with  millions  of  competitors,  he  can  hardly  hope  for 
success  without  devoting  himself  to  a  life  of  unremitting  study. 
True,  he  is  not  called  upon  to  extend  his  researches  beyond  the 
limits  of  his  own  national  literature  ;  but  that  is  all  but  infinite. 
It  costs  him  at  the  outset  years  of  labor  to  get  possession  of  the 
key  that  unlocks  it;  for  the  learned  language  is  totally  dis 
tinct  from  his  vernacular  dialect,  and  justly  regarded  as  the 
most  difficult  of  the  languages  of  man.  Then  he  must  commit 
to  memory  the  whole  circle  of  the  recognized  classics,  and 


68  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  [JUV> 

make  himself  familiar  with  the  best  writers  of  every  age  of  a 
country  which  is  no  less  prolific  in  books  than  in  men.  No 
doubt  his  course  of  study  is  too  purely  literary  and  too  exclu 
sively  Chinese,  but  it  is  not  superficial.  In  a  popular  u  Stu 
dent's  Guide,"  we  lately  met  with  a  course  of  reading  drawn 
up  for  thirty  years !  We  proposed  putting  it  into  the  hands  of 
a  young  American  residing  in  China,  who  had  asked  advice 
as  to  what  he  should  read.  "  Send  it,"  he  replied,  "  but 
don't  tell  my  mother." 

Bat  it  is  time  to  take  a  closer  view  of  these  examinations 
as  they  are  actually  conducted.  The  candidates  for  office,  — 
those  who  are  acknowledged  as  such,  in  consequence  of  sus 
taining  the  initial  trial,  —  are  divided  into  the  three  grades 
of  siu-t&ai,  chi'-jin,  and  tsin-shi,  —  "  Budding  Geniuses,"  "  Pro 
moted  Scholars,"  and  those  who  are  "  Ready  for  Office."  The 
trials  for  the  first  are  held  in  the  chief  city  of  each  district 
or  hie.n,  a  territorial  division  which  corresponds  to  our  county 
or  to  an  English  shire.  They  are  conducted  by  a  chancel 
lor,  whose  jurisdiction  extends  over  an  entire  province,  con 
taining,  it  may  be,  sixty  or  seventy  such  districts,  each  of 
which  he  is  required  to  visit  once  a  year,  and  each  of  which  is 
provided  with  a  resident  sub-chancellor,  whose  duty  it  is  to 
examine  the  scholars  in  the  interval,  and  to  have  them  in 
readiness  on  the  chancellor's  arrival. 

About  two  thousand  competitors  enter  the  lists,  ranging  in 
age  from  the  precocious  youth  just  entering  his  teens  up  to  the 
venerable  grandsire  of  seventy  winters.  Shut  up  for  a  night 
and  a  day,  each  in  his  narrow  cell,  they  produce  each  a  poem 
and  one  or  two  essays  on  themes  assigned  by  the  chancellor, 
and  then  return  to  their  homes  to  await  the  bulletin  announ 
cing  their  place  in  the  scale  of  merit.  The  chancellor,  assisted 
by  his  clerks,  occupies  several  days  in  sifting  the  heap  of  manu 
scripts,  from  which  Tie  picks  out  some  twenty  or  more  that  are 
distinguished  by  beauty  of  penmanship  and  grace  of  diction. 
The  authors  of  these  are  honored  with  the  degree  of  u  Budding 
Genius,"  and  are  entitled  to  wear  the  decorations  of  the  lowest 
grade  in  the  corporation  of  mandarins.  The  successful  stu 
dent  wins  no  purse  of  gold  and  obtains  no  office,  but  he  has 
gained  a  prize,  which  he  deems  a  sufficient  compensation  for 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  69 

years  of  patient  toil.  He  is  the  best  of  a  hundred  scholars, 
exempted  from  liability  to  corporal  punishment,  and  raised 
above  the  vulgar  herd.  The  social  consideration  to  which 
he  is  now  entitled  makes  it  a  grand  day  for  him  and  his 
family. 

Once  in  three  years  these  "  Budding  Geniuses,"  these  picked 
men  of  the  districts,  repair  to  the  provincial  capital  to  engage  in 
competition  for  the  second  degree,  —  that  of  chu-jin,  or  "  Pro 
moted  Scholar."  The  number  of  competitors  amounts  to  ten 
thousand,  more  or  less,  and  of  these  only  one  in  every  hundred 
can  be  admitted  to  the  coveted  degree.  The  trial  is  conducted 
by  special  examiners  sent  down  from  Pekin ;  and  this  exami 
nation  takes  a  wider  range  than  the  preceding.  No  fewer 
than  three  sessions  of  nearly  three  days  each  are  occupied 
instead  of  the  single  day  for  the  first  degree.  Composi 
tions  in  prose  and  verse  are  required,  and  themes  are  as 
signed  with  a  special  view  to  testing  the  extent  of  reading  and 
depth  of  scholarship  of  the  candidates.  Penmanship  is  left 
out  of  the  account,  —  each  production,  marked  with  a  cipher, 
being  copied  by  an  official  scribe,  that  the  examiners  may  have 
no  clew  to  its  author  and  no  temptation  to  render  a  biased 
judgment. 

The  victor  still  receives  neither  office  nor  emolument ;  but 
the  honor  he  achieves  is  scarcely  less  than  that  which  was  won 
by  the  victors  in  the  Olympic  games.  Again,  he  is  one  of  a 
hundred,  each  of  whom  was  a  picked  man  ;  and  as  a  result  of 
this  second  victory  he  goes  forth  an  acknowledged  superior 
among  ten  thousand  contending  scholars.  He  adorns  his  cap 
with  the  gilded  button  of  a  higher  grade,  erects  a  pair  of  lofty 
flag-staffs  before  the  gate  of  his  family  residence,  and  places  a 
tablet  over  his  door  to  inform  those  who  pass  by  that  this 
is  the  abode  of  a  literary  prize-man.  But  our  "  Promoted 
Scholar  "  is  not  yet  a  mandarin,  in  the  proper  sense  of  the 
term.  The  distinction  already  attained  only  stimulates  his 
desire  for  higher  honors,  —  honors  which  bring  at  last  the 
solid  recompense  of  an  income. 

In  the  spring  of  the  following  year  he  proceeds  to  Pekin  to 
seek  the  next  higher  degree,  the  attainment  of  which  will  prove 
a  passport  to  office.  The  contest  is  still  with  his  peers,  that  is, 


70  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  [July, 

with  other  "  Promoted  Scholars,"  who  like  himself  have  come  up 
from  all  the  provinces  of  the  empire.  But  the  chances  are  this 
time  more  in  his  favor,  as  the  number  of  prizes  is  now  tripled, 
and  if  the  gods  are  propitious  his  fortune  is  made.  Though 
ordinarily  not  very  devout,  he  now  shows  himself  peculiarly 
solicitous  to  secure  their  favor.  He  burns  incense  and  gives 
alms.  If  he  sees  a  fish  floundering  on  the  hooks,  he  pays  its 
price  and  restores  it  to  its  native  element.  He  picks  struggling 
ants  out  of  the  rivulet  made  by  a  recent  shower,  distributes 
moral  tracts,  or,  better  still,  rescues  chance  bits  of  printed 
paper  from  being  trodden  in  the  mire  of  the,  streets.  If  his 
name  appears  among  the  favored  few,  he  not  only  wins  him 
self  a  place  in  the  front  ranks  of  the  lettered,  but  he  plants  his 
foot  securely  on  the  rounds  of  the  official  ladder  by  which,  with 
out  the  prestige  of  birth  or  the  support  of  friends,  it  is  possi 
ble  to  rise  to  a  seat  in  the  grand  council  of  state  or  a  place  in 
the  Imperial  Cabinet.  All  this  advancement  presents  itself  in 
the  distant  prospect,  while  the  office  upon  which  he  imme 
diately  enters  is  one  of  respectability,  and  it  may  be  of  profit. 
It  is  generally  that  of  mayor  or  sub-mayor  of  a  district  city, 
or  sub-chancellor  in  the  district  examinations,  —  the  vacant 
posts  being  distributed  by  lot,  and  therefore  impartially,- 
-  among  those  who  have  proved  themselves  to  be  "ready  for 
office." 

Before  the  drawing  of  lots,  however,  for  the  post  of  a  magis 
trate  among  the  people,  our  ambitious  student  has  a  chance  of 
winning  the  more  distinguished  honor  of  a  place  in  the  Impe 
rial  Academy.  With  this  view,  the  two  or  three  hundred  sur 
vivors  of  so  many  contests  appear  in  the  palace,  where  themes 
are  assigned  them  by  the  Emperor  himself,  and  the  highest 
honor  is  paid  to  the  pursuit  of  letters  by  the  exercises  being 
presided  over  by  his  Majesty  in  person.  Penmanship  reap 
pears  as  an  element  in  determining  the  result,  and  a  score  or 
more  of  those  whose  style  is  the  most  finished,  whose  scholar 
ship  the  ripest,  and  whose  handwriting  the  most  elegant,  are 
drafted  into  the  college  of  Hanlin,  the  "  forest  of  pencils,"  a 
kind  of  Imperial  Institute,  the  members  of  which  are  recog 
nized  as  standing  at  the  head  of  the  literary  profession.  These 
are  constituted  poets  and  historians  to  the  Celestial  Court,  or 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  71 

deputed  to  act  as  chancellors  and  examiners  in  the  several 
provinces. 

But  the  diminishing  series  in  this  ascending  scale  has  not 
yet  reached  its  final  term.  The  long  succession  of  contests 
culminates  in  the  designation  by  the  Emperor  of  some  individ 
ual  whom  he  regards  as  the  C/iuang-Yuen  or  model  scholar  of 
the  empire,  —  the  bright  consummate  flower  of  the  season. 
This  is  not  a  common  annual  like  the  Senior  Wranglership  of 
Cambridge ,  nor  the  product  of  a  private  garden  like  the  valedic 
tory  orator  of  our  American  colleges.  It  blooms  but  once  in 
three  years,  and  the  whole  empire  yields  but  a  single  blossom, 
—  a  blossom  that  is  culled  by  the  hand  of  Majesty  and 
esteemed  among  the  brightest  ornaments  of  his  dominion. 
Talk  of  academic  honors  such  as  are  bestowed  by  Western 
nations,  in  comparison  with  those  which  this  Oriental  empire 
heaps  on  her  scholar  laureate !  Provinces  contend  for  the 
shining  prize,  and  the  town  that  gives  the  victor  birth  becomes 
noted  forever.  Swift  heralds  bear  the  tidings  of  his  triumph, 
and  the  hearts  of  the  people  leap  at  their  approach.  We  have 
seen  them  enter  a  humble  cottage,  and  amid  the  flaunting  of 
banners  and  the  blare  of  trumpets  announce  to  its  sta,rtled 
inmates  that  one  of  their  relations  had  been  crowned  by  the 
Emperor  as  the  laureate  of  the  year.  And  so  high  was  the 
estimation  in  which  the  people  held  the  success  of  their  fellow- 
townsman,  that  his  wife  was  requested  to  visit  the  six  gates  of 
the  city,  and  to  scatter  before  each  a  handful  of  rice,  that  the 
whole  population  might  share  in  the  good  fortune  of  her  house 
hold.  A  popular  tale,  La  Bleue  et  La  Blanche,  translated  from 
the  Chinese  by  M.  Julien,  represents  a  goddess  as  descend 
ing  from  heaven,  that  she  might  give  birth  to  the  scholar 
laureate  of  tLe  empire. 

All  this  has,  we  confess,  an  air  of  Oriental  display  and  exag 
geration.  It  suggests  rather  the  dust  and  sweat  of  the  great 
national  games  of  antiquity  than  the  mental  toil  and  intel 
lectual  triumphs  of  the  modern  world.  But  it  is  obvious  that 
a  competition  which  excites  so  profoundly  the  interest  of  a 
whole  nation  must  be  productive  of  very  decided  results. 
That  it  leads  to  the  selection  of  the  best  talents  for  the  ser 
vice  of  the  public  we  have  already  seen ;  but  beyond  this  —  its 


72  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  [July, 

primary  object  —  it  exercises  a  profound  influence  upon  the 
education  of  the  people  and  the  stability  of  the  government. 
It  is  all,  in  fact,  that  China  has  to  show  in  the  way  of  an  edu 
cational  system.  She  has  no  colleges  or  universities,  —  if  we 
except  one  that  is  yet  in  embryo,  —  and  no  national  system  of 
common  schools ;  yet  it  may  be  confidently  asserted  that  China 
gives  to  learning  a  more  effective  patronage  than  she  could 
have  done  if  each  of  her  emperors  were  an  Augustus  and  every 
premier  a  Maecenas.  She  says  to  all  her  sons,  "  Prosecute  your 
studies  by  such  means  as  you  may  be  able  to  command, 
whether  in  public  or  in  private,  and  when  you  are  prepared, 
present  yourselves  in  the  examination  hall.  The  government 
will  judge  of  your  proficiency  and  reward  your  attainments." 

Nothing  can  exceed  the  ardor  which  this  standing  offer  in 
fuses  into  the  minds  of  all  who  have  the  remotest  prospect  of 
sharing  in  the  prizes.  They  study  not  merely  while  they  have 
teachers  to  incite  them  to  diligence,  but  continue  their  studies 
with  unabated  zeal  long  after  they  have  left  the  schools ;  they 
study  in  solitude  and  poverty  ;  they  study  amidst  the  cares 
of  a  family  and  the  turmoil  of  business  ;  and  the  shining  goal  is 
kept  steadily  in  view  until  the  eye  grows  dim.  Some  of  the 
aspirants  impose  on  themselves  the  task  of  writing  a  fresh 
essay  every  day ;  and  they  do  not  hesitate  to  enter  the  lists  as 
often  as  the  public  examinations  recur,  resolved,  if  they  fail,  to 
continue  trying,  believing  that  perseverance  has  power  to  com 
mand  success,  and  encouraged  by  the  legend  of  the  man  who, 
needing  a  sewing-needle,  made  one  by  grinding  a  crowbar  on  a 
piece  of  granite. 

We  have  met  an  old  mandarin,  who  related  with  evident 
pride  how,  on  gaining  the  second  degree,  he  had  removed 
with  his  whole  family  to  Pekin,  from  the  distant  province  of 
Yunnon,  to  compete  for  the  third  ;  and  how  at  each  triennial 
contest  he  had  failed,  until,  after  more  than  twenty  years  of 
patient  waiting,  at  the  seventh  trial,  and  at  the  mature  age  of 
threescore  years,  he  bore  off  the  coveted  prize.  He  had  worn 
his  honors  for  seven  years,  and  was  then  mayor  of  the  city  of 
Tientsin.  In  a  list  now  on  our  table  of  ninety-nine  successful 
competitors  for  the  second  degree,  sixteen  are  over  forty  years 
of  age,  one  sixty-two,  and  one  eighty-three.  The  average  age 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  73 

of  the  whole  number  is  above  thirty  ;  and  for  the  third  degree 
the  average  is  of  course  proportionally  higher. 

So  powerful  are  the  motives  addressed  to  them,  that  the 
whole  body  of  scholars  who  once  enter  the  examination  hall 
are  devoted  to  study  as  a  life-long  occupation.  We  thus  have 
a  class  of  men,  numbering  in  the  aggregate  many  millions, 
who  keep  their  faculties  bright  by  constant  exercise,  and  whom 
it  would  be  difficult  to  parallel  in  any  Western  country  for 
readiness  with  the  pen  and  retentiveness  of  memory.  If  these 
men  are  not  highly  educated,  it  is  the  fault,  not  of  the  com 
petitive  system  which  proves  its  power  to  stimulate  them  to 
such  prodigious  exertions,  but  of  the  false  standard  of  intel 
lectual  merit  established  in  China.  In  that  country  letters  are 
everything  and  science  nothing.  Men  occupy  themselves  with 
words  rather  than  with  things  ;  and  the  powers  of  acquisition 
are  more  cultivated  than  those  of  invention. 

The  type  of  Chinese  education  is  not  that  of  our  modern 
schools ;  but,  when  compared  with  the  old  curriculum  of  lan 
guages  and  philosophy,  it  appears  by  no  means  contemptible. 
A  single  paper,  intended  for  the  last  day  of  the  examination  for 
the  second  degree,  may  serve  as  a  specimen.  It  covers  five 
subjects,  — criticism,  history,  agriculture,  military  affairs,  and 
finance.  There  are  about  twenty  questions  on  each  subject, 
and  whilst  they  certainly  do  not  deal  with  it  in  a  scientific 
manner,  it  is  something  in  their  favor  to  say  that  they  are 
such  as  cannot  be  answered  without  an  extensive  course  of 
reading  in  Chinese  literature.  One  question  under  each  of  the 
five  heads  is  all  that  our  space  will  allow  us  to  introduce. 

1.  "  How  do  the  rival  schools  of  Wang1  and  Ching  differ  in 
respect  to  the  exposition  of  the  meaning  and  the  criticism  of 
the  text  of  the  Book  of  Changes  ?  " 

2.  "  The  great  historian  Sze-ma-ts'ien  prides  himself  upon 
having  gathered  up  much  material  that  was  neglected  by  other 
writers.     What  are  the  sources  from  which  he  derived  his  in 
formation  ?  ' 

3.  "  From  the  earliest  times  great  attention  has  been  given 
to  the  improvement  of  agriculture.     Will  you  indicate  the  ar 
rangements  adopted  for  that  purpose  by  the  several  dynasties?" 

4.  "  The  art  of  war  arose  under  Hwangte,  4400  years  ago. 


74  Competitive  Examinations  in  China. 

Different  dynasties  have  since  that  time  adopted  different  regu 
lations  in  regard  to  the  use  of  militia  or  standing  armies,  the 
mode  of  raising  supplies  for  the  army,  etc.  Can  you  state 
these  briefly  ?  " 

5.  "  Give  an  account  of  the  circulating  medium  under  differ 
ent  dynasties,  and  state  how  the  currency  of  the  Sung  dynasty 
corresponded  with  our  use  of  paper  money  at  the  present  day." 

In  another  paper,  issued  on  a  similar  occasion,  astronomy 
takes  the  place  of  agriculture,  but  the  questions  are  confined 
to  such  allusions  to  the  subject  as  are  to  ,be  met  with  in  the 
circle  of  their  classical  literature,  and  afford  but  little  scope 
for  the  display  of  scientific  attainments.  Still,  the  fact  that  a 
place  is  found  for  this  class  of  subjects  is  full  of  hope.  It  in 
dicates  that  the  door,  if  not  fully  open,  is  at  least  sufficiently 
ajar  to  admit  the  introduction  of  our  Western  sciences  with  all 
their  progeny  of  arts,  a  band  powerful  enough  to  lift  the  Chinese 
out  of  the  mists  of  their  mediaeval  scholasticism,  and  to  bring 
them  into  the  full  light  of  modern  knowledge.  If  the  examiners 
were  scientific  men,  and  if  scientific  subjects  were  made  suffi 
ciently  prominent  in  these  higher  examinations,  millions  of 
aspiring  students  would  soon  become  as  earnest  in  the  pursuit  of 
modern  science  as  they  now  are  in  the  study  of  their  ancient 
classics.*  Thus  reformed  and  renovated  by  the  injection  of 
fresh  blood  into  the  old  arteries,  this  noble  institution  would 
rise  to  the  dignity  of  a  great  national  university, —  a  univer 
sity  not  like  those  of  Oxford  or  Cambridge,  which  train  their 
own  graduates,  but  —  to  compare  great  things  with  small  — 
like  the  University  of  London,  promoting  the  cause  of  learn 
ing  by  .examining  candidates  and  conferring  degrees.  The 
University  of  London  admits  to  its  initial  examination  annu- 

*  As  a  sample  of  the  practical  bearing  which  it  is  possible  to  give  to  these 
examination  exercises  we  take  a  few  questions  from  another  paper :  — 

"Fire-arms  began  with  the  use  of  rockets  in  the  Chan  dynasty  (B.  C.  1100)  ; 
.  in  what  book  do  we  first  meet  with  the  word  for  cannon  ?  What  is  the  difference 
in  the  two  classes  of  engines  to  which  it  is  applied?  (applied  also  to  the  catapult.) 
Is  the  defence  of  K'aifungfu  its  first  recorded  use?  Kublai  Khan,  it  is  said,  ob 
tained  cannon  of  a  new  kind;  from  whom  did  he  obtain  them?  The  Sungs  had 
several  varieties  of  small  cannon;  what  were  their  advantages?  When  the 
Mings,  in  the  reign  of  Yungloh,  invaded  Cochin-China,  they  obtained  a  kind  of 
cannon  called  the  'weapons  of  the  gods';  can  you  give  an  account  of  their 
origin  ?  " 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  75 

ally  about  1,400  candidates,  and  passes  one  half.  The  gov 
ernment  examinations  of  China  admit  about  2,000,000  candi 
dates  every  year,  and  pass  only  one  per  cent. 

The  political  bearings  of  this  competitive  system  are  too  im 
portant  to  be  passed  over,  and  yet  too  numerous  to  be  treated  in 
detail.  Its  incidental  advantages  may  be  comprehended  under 
three  heads. 

1.  It  serves  the  state  as  a  safety-valve,  providing  a  career 
for  those  ambitious  spirits  which  might  otherwise  foment  dis 
turbances  or  excite  revolutions.     Whilst  in  democratic  coun 
tries   the   ambitious    flatter  the   people,   and   in   monarchies 
fawn  on  the  great,  in  China,  instead  of  resorting  to  dishon 
orable  acts  or  to  political   agitation,  they  betake  themselves 
to  quiet  study.     They  know  that  their  mental  calibre  will  be 
fairly  gauged,  and  that  if  they  are  born  to  rule,  the  competi 
tive  examinations  will  open  to  them  a  career.     The  competi 
tive  system  has  not,  indeed,  proved   sufficient  to  employ  all 
the  forces  that  tend  to  produce  intestine  commotion ;  but  it 
is  easy  to  perceive  that  without  it  the  shocks  must  have  been 
more  frequent  and  serious. 

2.  It  operates  as  a  counterpoise  to  the  power  of  an  abso 
lute  monarch.     Without  it  the  great  offices  would  be  filled 
by  "hereditary  nobles,  and  the  minor  offices  be  farmed  out 
by  thousands  to  imperial  favorites.     With  it  a  man  of  tal 
ents  may  raise  himself  from  the  humblest  ranks  to  the  dig 
nity  of  viceroy  or  premier.     Tsiatig  siang  pun  wu  chung,  — 
"  The  general   and  the  prime  minister  are  not  born  in  of 
fice,"  —  is  a  line  that  every  schoolboy  is  taught  to  repeat. 
Rising  from  the  people,  the  mandarins  understand  the  feel 
ings  and  wants  of  the  people,  though   it   must  be  confessed 
that  they  are  usually  avaricious  and  oppressive  in  proportion 
to  the  length  of  time  it  has  taken  them  to  reach  their  ele 
vation.     Still,  they  have  the   support   and   sympathy  of  the 
people  to  a  greater  extent  than  they  could  have  if  they  were 
the  creatures  of  arbitrary  power.     The  system,  therefore,  in 
troduces  a  popular  element  into  the  government,  —  a  check 
on  the  prerogative  of  the  Emperor  as  to  the  appointment  of 
officers,  and  serves  as  a  kind  of  constitution  to  his  subjects, 
prescribing  the  conditions  on  which  they  shall  obtain  a  share 
in  the  administration  of  the  government. 


76  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  [July, 

3.  It  gives  the  government  a  hold  on  the  educated  gen 
try,  and  binds  them  to  the  support  of  existing  institutions.  It 
renders  the  educated  classes  eminently  conservative,  because 
they  know  that  in  the  event  of  a  revolution  civil  office  would 
be  bestowed,  not  as  the  reward  of  learning,  but  for  political 
or  military  services.  The  literati,  the  most  influential  por 
tion  of  the  population,  are  for  this  reason  also  the  most 
loyal.  It  is  their  support  that  has  upheld  the  reigning  house, 
though  of  a  foreign  race,  through  these  long  years  of  civil 
commotion,  while  to  the  "  rebels "  it  has  been  a  ground  of 
reproach  and  a  source  of  weakness  that  they, have  had  but 
few  literary  men  in  their  ranks. 

Jn  districts  where  the  people  have  distinguished  themselves 
by  zeal  in  the  imperial  cause,  the  only  recompense  they  crave 
is  a  slight  addition  to  the  numbers  on  the  competitive  prize 
list.  Such  additions  the  government  has  made  very  fre 
quently  of  late  years,  in  consideration  of  money  supplies.  It 
has  also,  to  relieve  its  exhausted  exchequer,  put  up  for  sale 
the  decorations  of  the  literary  orders,  and  issued  patents  ad 
mitting  contributors  to  the  higher  examinations  without  pass 
ing  through  the  lower  grades.  But  though  the  government 
thus  debases  the  coin,  it  guards  itself  jealously  against  the 
issue  of  a  spurious  currency.  Seven  years  ago  Peiching,  first 
president  of  the  Examining  Board  at  Pekin,  was  put  to 
death  for  having  fraudulently  conferred  two  or  three  degrees. 
The  fraud  was  limited  in  extent,  but  the  damage  it  threat 
ened  was  incalculable.  It  tended  to  shake  the  confidence  of 
the  people  in  the  administration  of  that  branch  of  the  govern 
ment  which  constituted  their  only  avenue  to  honors  and  office. 
Even  the  Emperor  cannot  tamper  with  it  without  peril.  It 
is  the  Chinaman's  ballot-box,  his  grand  charter  of  rights ; 
though  the  Emperor  may  lower  its  demands,  in  accordance 
with  the  wishes  of  a  majority,  he  could  not  set  it  aside  with 
out  producing  a  revolution. 

Such  is  the  Chinese  competitive  system,  and  such  are  some 
of  its  advantages  and  defects.  May  it  not  be  feasible  to  graft 
something  of  a  similar  character  on  our  own  republican  institu 
tions  ?  More  congenial  to  the  spirit  of  our  free  government,  it 
might  be  expected  to  yield  better  fruits  in  this  country  than  in 


1870.]  Competitive  Examinations  in  China.  77 

China.  In  British  India  it  works  admirably.  In  Great  Britain, 
too,  the  diplomatic  and  consular  services  have  been  placed  on 
a  competitive  basis  ;  and  something  of  the  kind  must  be  done 
for  our  own  foreign  service  if  we  wish  our  influence  abroad  to 
be  at  all  commensurate  with  our  greatness  and  prosperity  at 
home.  When  will  our  government  learn  that  a  good  consul 
is  worth  more  than  a  man-of-war,  and  that  an  able  minister 
is  of  more  value  than  a  whole  fleet  of  iron-clads  ?  To  secure 
good  consuls  and  able  ministers  we  must  choose  them  from 
a  body  of  men  who  have  been  picked  and  trained. 

In  effecting  these  reforms,  Mr.  Jenckes's  bill  might  serve  as 
an  entering  wedge.  It  would  secure  the  acknowledgment  of 
the  principle  —  certainly  not  alarmingly  revolutionary  —  that 
places  should  go  by  merit.  But  it  does  not  go  far  enough. 
u  It  does  not,'*  he  says,  "  touch  places  which  are  to  be  filled  • 
with  the  advice  and  consent  of  the  Senate.  It  would  not  in 
the  least  interfere  with  the  scramble  for  office  which  is  going 
on  at  the  other  end  of  the  Avenue,  or  which  fills  with  anxious 
crowds  the  corridors  of  the  other  wing  of  the  Capitol.  This 
measure,  it  should  be  remembered,  deals  only  with  the  inferior 
officers,  whose  appointment  is  made  by  the  President  alone,  or 
by  the  heads  of  departments." 

But  what  danger  is  there  of  infringing  on  the  rights  of  the 
Senate  ?  Is  there  anything  that  would  aid  the  Senate  so  much 
in  giving  their  "  advice  and  consent "  as  the  knowledge  that 
the  applicants  for  confirmation  had  proved  their  competence  be 
fore  a  Board  of  Examiners  ?  And  would  not  the  knowledge  of 
the  same  fact  lighten  the  burdens  of  the  President,  and  relieve 
him  of  much  of  the  difficulty  which  he  now  experiences  in  the 
selection  of  qualified  men  ?  Such  an  arrangement  would  not 
take  away  the  power  of  executive  appointment,  but  regulate 
its  exercise.  Nor  would  it,  if  applied  to  elective  offices,  inter 
fere  with  the  people's  freedom  of  choice  further  than  to  insure 
that  the  candidates  should  be  men  of  suitable  qualifications. 
It  may  not  be  easy  to  prescribe  rules  for  that  popular  sovereign 
ty  which  follows  only  its  own  sweet  will,  but  it  is  humiliating 
to  reflect  that  our  u  mandarins  "  are  so  far  from  being  the 
most  intellectual  class  of  the  community. 

WILLIAM  A.  P.  MABTIN. 


78  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 


ART.   IV.  —  1.   Money.     By   CHARLES  MORAN.     New  York  : 
D.  Appleton  &  Co.     1863. 

2.  Principles  of  Currency.     By  EDWIN  HILL.     London  :  Long 
man,  Brown,  Green,  and  Longmans.     1856. 

3.  Principles  of  Currency.     By  BONAMY  PRICE.     Oxford  and 
London  :  James  Parker  &  Co.     1869. 

OF  all  the  numerous  and  violent  changes  produced  in  the 
United  States  by  the  war  of  the  Rebellion,  the  most  important 
is  the  change  in  the  distribution  of  wealth  consequent  upon  the 
creation  of  a  great  national  debt.  As  a  result  of  this  change 
fiscal  and  financial  problems  have  assumed  with  us  an  im 
portance  never  before  experienced,  —  an  importance  intensi 
fied  by  the  absence  of  that  study  of  such  problems,  which  is 
scarcely  ever  undertaken  except  at  the  demand  of  practical 
necessity.  We  are  thus  face  to  face  with  problems  of  the 
utmost,  national  importance,  some  of  which  have  never  yet 
been  solved,  and  others  have  received  only  solutions  which  are 
not  applicable  to  our  situation ;  while  to  all  of  them  we  have 
as  a  nation  heretofore  been  profoundly  indifferent,  and  con 
cerning  their  precise  nature  are  consequently  to  a  correspond 
ing  degree  ignorant. 

Our  position  is  rendered  more  difficult  even  than  is  at  first 
sight  apparent  from  the  fact  that  all  our  fiscal  and  financial 
problems  have,  through  previous  faulty  legislation,  become  so 
thoroughly  interlaced  and  interwoven  with  one  another  that  it 
is  utterly  impossible  to  separate  them,  while  at  the  same  time 
our  method  of  practical  legislation  does  not  admit  of  their 
being  dealt  with  otherwise  than  separately,  nor  has  as  yet  the 
master-mind  appeared  capable  of  dealing  with  them  in  the 
aggregate.  So  intimate  is  the  relation  between  these  different 
problems,  that  every  effort  to  furnish  a  practical  solution  of 
either  one  of  them  has  invariably  been  defeated  by  the  influ 
ence  of  persons  or  classes  interested  in  the  others.  The 
problem  of  taxation  —  without  reference  even  to  its  methods 
—  cannot  be  practically  considered  without  first  fixing  the 
amount  of  revenue  required.  The  amount  of  revenue  required 
depends  to  a  large  extent  upon  the1  ultimate  disposition  to  be 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  79 

made  of  the  national  debt,  its  rate  of  interest,  the  methods  of  its 
reduction  or  final  payment.  No  disposition  can  be  made  of  the 
debt  without  widely  affecting  the  national  banks,  whose  very 
existence  is  based  upon  the  debt.  No  change  can  be  made  in 
the  national  banks,  without  interfering  with  the  currency,  and 
with  the  currency  is  bound  up  the  question  of  specie  pay 
ments,  while  on  the  latter  again  both  taxation  and  the  fund 
ing  of  the  debt  are  largely  dependent.  While  in  this  view 
of  the  case  we  need  no  longer  feel  surprise  at  the  chaotic 
condition  of  legislation  on  these  subjects,  we  cannot  but  rec 
ognize  that  the  currency  problem,  which  is  more  intimately 
connected  with  all  the  other  problems  than  they  are  with  one 
another,  is  really  the  key  to  the  situation. 

No  wonder  that  the  other  problems  are  little  understood, 
when  the  one  upo'n  which  all  others  depend  for  their  solu 
tion  is  that  profound  mystery  which,  ever  since  the  creation 
of  political  economy,  has  puzzled  the  wisest  of  economists,  — 
the  currency.  It  is  scarcely  an  exaggeration  to  say,  that,  since 
the  search  after  the  philosopher's  stone,  no  one  subject  has  more 
thoroughly  occupied  the  minds  of  able  thinkers  than  the 
search  after  an  acceptable  theory  of  the  nature  of  money. 
No  abler  minds  have  been  occupied  with  any  science  for  the 
last  century  than  those  which  have  devoted  themselves  to  the 
study  of  economic  science.  In  all  other  branches  of  this 
science  conclusions  have  been  reached  which  have  been,  if 
not  universally  approved,  yet  widely  accepted.  On  the  subject 
of  money  alone  no  two  original  thinkers  have  yet  been  found 
to  agree.  And  where  profound  thinkers  fail  to  agree,  how 
can  the  thoughtless  public  be  expected  to  form  intelligent 
opinions  ? 

Indeed,  on  no  subject  of  universal  interest  does  such  utter 
want  of  knowledge  exist  as  on  this  subject  of  money,  while 
at  the  same  time  on  no  subject  does  every  one  express 
his  opinion  with  equal  confidence.  We  are  as  a  nation  pecu 
liarly  identified  with  money.  The  vulgar  European  belief  in 
our  worship  of  the  "  almighty  dollar  "  is  undoubtedly  more  or 
less  well  founded.  As  a  people  we  unquestionably  do  think 
more  of  money  than  any  other  people  of  modern  times.  We 
love  the  possession  of  money  in  ourselves ;  we  honor  it  in 


80  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

others.  Our  principal  object  in  life  is  to  make  money,  and  for 
the  last  ten  years  we  have  made  more  money,  and  have  made 
it  of  more  different  kinds  than  ever  nation  did  before.  We 
are  the  largest  producers  of  gold  and  silver  in  the  world,  and 
have  been  led  to  believe  that  our  Pacific  States  are  the  great 
money-box  -of  the  nineteenth  century.  It  was,  therefore,  not 
unnatural  for  us  to  think  that,  if  ever  people  understood  money, 
the  people  of  the  United  States  understood  it.  . 

It  was  this  general  belief,  that  the  question  is  so  simple  and 
so  thoroughly  understood,  which  until  recently  has  deterred 
many  of  our  best  thinkers  from  seeking  to  answer  it ;  for  in  the 
intensely  practical  nature  of  our  life  we  are  too  apt  to  shun 
labor  which  promises  no  result,  and  to  avoid  saying  what  may 
not  be  listened  to.  As  Bastiat  well  said  in  his  little  pamphlet, 
"  Maudit  Argent,"  "  I  curse  money,  because  I  feel  myself  in 
capable  of  wrestling  with  the  errors  to  which  it  has  given  birth, 
without  a  long  and  tedious  dissertation  to  which  no  one  will 
listen."  But  the  extremely  pressing  nature  of  the  national 
demand  for  a  settlement  of  the  practical  questions  connected 
with  money  has  very  materially  changed  the  public  temper 
with  regard  to  the  scientific  discussion  of  its  nature,  and 
so  great  has  been  the  reaction,  that,  for  some  time  past, 
scarcely  any  topic  has  excited  more  universal  attention. 
It  now  seems  time  to  give  the  subject  that  thorough  dis 
cussion  which  a  few  years  since  would  not  have  been  lis 
tened  to. 

All  writers  on  money  have  assumed  that,  originally,  all  trade 
consisted  of  barter,  and  that  barbarous  peoples  exchanged  one 
kind  of  goods  for  another  kind  of  goods  without  the  use  of  any 
money  whatever,  and  indeed  without  thought  or  knowledge 
of  money  ;  that  for  a  long  period  of  time  people  found  it  per 
fectly  convenient  to  transact  their  business  in  that  manner,  and 
got  along  very  well  without  money  ;  but  that  at  some  time  or 
other  they  discovered  the  inconvenience  of  this  method  of 
doing  business,  that  then  somebody  invented  money,  and  that 
everybody  recognized  the  advantages  of  its  use,  and  its  use 
consequently  became  general. 

This  assumption  is  utterly  unfounded,  and  is  itself  the  foun 
dation  of  many  subsequent  errors.  In  examining  carefully  the 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  81 

historic  or  contemporary  accounts  of  barbarous  nations,  it  will 
be  found  that,  even  where  barter  flourished,  money  of  some 
kind  was  almost  always  known,  and  that  trade  was  carried  on 
by  barter  only  between  strangers  or  those  whose  money  was 
of  different  kinds.  In  fact,  barter  is  a  very  complicated  trade, 
which  presupposes  an  advanced  state  of  civilization-  admitting 
of  trade  between  peoples  very  wide  apart  in  their  natural  pro 
ductions,  or  else  requiring  a  decided  progress  in  the  division 
of  labor,  so  as  to  cause  individuals  of  the  same  people  to  be 
engaged  in  very  various  occupations. 

A  far  more  natural  assumption  is,  that  trade  originally  con 
sisted  exclusively  of  loans.  The  strongest  and  most  skilful 
individual  of  a  tribe  had  killed  an  animal  larger  than  he 
needed  for  his  food  ;  he  would  lend  a  portion  of  it  to  those 
less  successful  than  himself,  to  be  returned  to  him  from  the 
proceeds  of  their  next  chase.  He  had  made  a  stronger,  bet 
ter  bow,  which  he  would  lend  when  not  using  it.  He  had 
made  larger  crops  and  saved  more,  and  of  his  savings  he 
would  lend.  We  are,  unfortunately,  unacquainted  with  the 
history  of  any  people  that  had  not  advanced  beyond  this 
stage ;  but  we  do  possess  knowledge  of  peoples  who  are  still 
in  the  very  next  stage  beyond.  And  of  these  Mr.  Du  Chaillu's 
recent  work  on  "  Equatorial  Africa  "  furnishes  so  striking  an 
illustration  that  we  cannot  refrain  from  quoting  it  entire :  — 

"  Let  me  here  give  the  reader  an  idea  of  African  commerce.  The 
rivers,  which  are  the  only  highways  of  the  country,  are  of  course  the 
avenues  by  which  every  species  of  export  and  import  must  be  con 
veyed  from  and  to  the  interior.  Now,  the  river  banks  are  possessed 
by  different  tribes.  Thus,  while  the  Mpongive  held  the  mouth  and 
some  miles  above,  they  are  succeeded  by  the  Shekiani,  and  these  again 
by  other  tribes,  to  the  number  of  almost  a  dozen,  before  the  Sierra  del 
Cristal,  or  Crystal  Mountains,  are  reached.  Each  of  these  tribes  acts 
as  a  go-between  or  middle-man  to  those  next  to  it,  and  charges  a 
heavy  percentage  for  this  office.  Thus,  a  piece  of  ivory  or  ebony 
may  belong  originally  to  a  negro  in  the  far  interior,  and  if  he  wants 
to  barter  it  'for  white  man's  trade,'  he  intrusts  it  to  some  fellow  in  the 
next  tribe  nearer  to  the  coast  than  his  own.  He,  in  turn,  disposes  of 
it  to  the  next  chief  or  friend ;  and  thus  ivory,  or  ebony,  or  bar-wood,  or 
whatever,  is  turned  and  turned,  and  passes  through  probably  a  dozen 
hands  ere  it  reaches  the  factory  of  the  trader  on  the  coast. 

VOL.  CXI.  —  NO.  228.  6 


82  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

"  When  the  last  black  fellow  disposes  of  this  piece  of  ebony  or  ivory 
to  the  white  merchant  or  captain  on  the  coast,  he  first  retains  a  liberal 
percentage  of  the  returns,  and  then  hands  the  remainder  over  to  his 
next  neighbor  above.  He,  in  turn,  takes  a  commission  for  his  trouble, 
and  passes  on  what  is  left,  until  finally  the  remainder  —  often  little 
enough  —  is*  handed  over  to  the  original  owner  of  the  ivory  tusk  or 
ebony  log." 

It  is  very  evident  that  this  large  and  important  trade  among 
the  Mpongive  and  Shekiani  negroes  is  carried  on  without  bar 
ter  and  without  money,  by  the  simple  process  of  lending  the 
article  until  the  article  itself  is  returned,  or  some  other  ar 
ticle  brought  in  exchange.  In  other  words,  the  trade  of  the 
Mpongive  and  Shekiani  negroes  is  carried  on,  without  barter 
and  without  money,  by  means  of  a  system  of  trust  or  credit. 
So  entirely  natural  and  reasonable,  so  entirely  in  harmony  with 
all  a  priori  conclusions  does  this  method  of  trade  seem  to  us, 
that  we  do  not  hesitate  to  accept  it  as  the  criginal  form  of  trade 
among  barbarous  peoples,  entirely  discarding  the  generally  ac 
cepted  theory  of  barter.  We  accept  the  theory  all  the  more 
readily,  because  out  of  it  the  practice  of  using  money  develops 
itself  in  the  most  natural  and  orderly  manner,  and  because 
it  furnishes  the  only  true  explanation  of  money  in  all  shapes 
and  under  all  disguises. 

Only  a  few  pages  beyond  the  quotation  just  given  may  be 
found  a  vivid  description  of  the  evils  naturally  growing  out 
of  this  u  credit"  system,  which  Mr.  Du  Chailiu,  in  the  inter 
est  of  the  trade  on  the  coast,  seeks  to  abolish.  The  negro  in 
the  far  interior  who  first  starts  the  ivory  tusk  on  its  voyage 
down  the  Gaboon  finds  one  day  that  he  gets  no  return  at  all ; 
the  fellow  of  the  tribe  next  below  him,  to  whom  he  had  lent  it, 
is  seized  by  his  creditors  and  the  property  taken  from  him  ;  or 
he  falls  in  with  enemies  and  is  killed,  or  taken  prisoner  and 
sold  to  slave-traders,  or  his  canoe  is  upset  by  the  rapids  or  by 
a  startled  rhinoceros,  and  his  cargo  lost.  Even  if  the  original 
beginner  of  the  trade,  —  the  man  who  killed  the  elephant  or 
felled  the  tree,  —  even  if  he  is  not  entirely  deprived,  by  fraud 
or  violence  or  accident,  of  the  proceeds  of  his  merchandise,  he 
yet  finds  himself  so  often  deceived,  —  finds  so  often  that  his 
returns  of  u  white  man's  goods,"  received  in  exchange  for  his 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  83 

own,  are  entirely  out  of  proportion  to  his  just  anticipations,  that 
he  becomes  at  last  unwilling  to  lend  his  goods,  unless  he  can  get 
some  reasonable  security  that  he  will  receive  a  fair  return. 

Now  what  security  can  a  savage  offer  ?  His  wealth  consists 
in  his  arms,  his  trifling  household  utensils,  and  —  hts  orna 
ments  :  the  beads  or  shells  around  his  neck,  the  gold  or  silver 
or  copper  rings  on  his  arms  or  in  his  ears.  These  he  pledges 
as  security  for  the  merchandise  he  borrows.  Like  Balafrd,  the 
Scotch  archer  in  Quentin  Durward,  type  of  a  different  savage 
among  more  civilized  nations,  he  bites  the  links  off  his  golden 
neck  chain,  and  pledges  them  wherever  he  is  in  debt.  The 
pretty  sea-shells,  the  cowrie  of  the  East  African,  the  wampum 
of  the  North  American  Indian,  the  copper  rings  of  the  West 
African,  the  golden  and  silver  rings  of  the  West  Indian  and  of 
the  Mexican  and  Central  American  are  all  used  by  them  as 
ornaments,  and  as  ornaments  are  pledged  by  them  as  security 
for  borrowed  merchandise. 

Accordingly,  when  the  negro  in  the  interior  of  Africa  ac 
cepts  his  neighbor's  personal  ornaments  as  security  for  the 
merchandise  he  has  lent  him,  it  is  not  the  ornaments  which  he 
wants;  it  is  "white  man's  trade,"  —  powder,  shot,  knives, 
hatchets,  and  the  like,  but  he  takes  the  beads  and  shells  or 
brass  and  golden  rings  because  he  knows  that  the  original 
owner  will  want  them  back,  and  that  in  order  to  get  them 
back  he  will  bring  the  powder  and  ball  and  rum  which  he  has 
promised  in  exchange  for  the  ivory  tusk.  As  soon  as  he 
brings  these  he  receives  back  his  ornaments,  and  the  trade  is 
completed. 

Far-fetched  as  this  illustration  may  seem  at  first  sight,  it  is 
in  reality  the  most  natural  that  can  be  imagined,  and  is  based 
upon  actual  facts.  To  us  it  offers  the  most  complete  solution 
of  the  problem :  What  is  money  ? 

Money  is  a  personal  ornament  temporarily  pledged  as  secu 
rity  for  merchandise  borrowed. 

All  gold  and  silver  have  value  only  as  ornaments.  It  is  only 
when  they  are  temporarily  perverted  from  their  original  pur 
pose  that  they  become  money.  Among  savages  we  readily 
recognize  this  truth,  but  we  find  it  difficult  to  admit  it  among 
ourselves.  Yet  it  is  precisely  as  true  to-day,  in  our  highly 


84  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  [July, 

advanced  civilization,  as  it  ever  was  among  the  Aztecs,  or  as  it 
is  among  the  Mpongive  negroes,  By  far  the  smallest  portion 
of  the  gold  and  silver  in  existence  is  in  the  shape  of  money. 
By  far  the  largest  is  in  the  shape  of  ornament.  One  needs  only 
to  reflect  for  one  moment.  Every  man,  woman,  and  child  in  the 
United  States  owns  some  trifling  ornament  of  gold  or  silver. 
Think  of  the  ear-rings  and  finger-rings,  which  everybody 
wears ;  think  of  the  other  ornaments  worn  by  the  more  weal 
thy,  the  buttons  and  bracelets  and  breastpins,  the  gold  and 
silver  watches,  the  gold  and  silver  pencil-cases ;  think  of  the 
gold  and  silver  and  plated  table-ware,  —  the  thousand  and  one 
things  in  every  'household  that  make  up  the  nation's  wealth  of 
silver  and  gold,  —  and  it  will  be  evident  that,  with  us  at  least, 
every  individual  owns  more  gold  and  silver  in  the  shape  of 
ornament  than  in  the  shape  of  money.  The  probabilities  of 
the  case  evidently  support  our  assertion.  But  we  have  better 
authority. 

Jacob,  in  his  elaborate  "  Historical  Inquiry  into  the  Produc 
tion  and  Consumption  of  the  Precious  Metals, "  estimates  (in 
1831)  "  the  quantity  of  gold  and  silver  in  actual  existence  [in 
England],  including  utensils,  ornaments,  jewelry,  trinkets,  and 
watches,  as  three  or  four  times  as  great  as  the  value  of  those 
metals  which  exists  in  the  form  of  money."  And  McCulloch 
estimates  the  annual  consumption  of  gold  in  the  arts,  which  is 
almost  all  used  for  ornaments,  as  sixty  millions  of  dollars  a 
year,  against  only  fifty  millions  of  dollars  used  for  coin.  It  is 
notorious,  likewise,  that  a  large  amount  of  coin  is  every  year 
melted  down  for  use  by  jewellers,  which  would  swell  the  propor 
tion  devoted  to  ornament,  and  pro  tanto  diminish  that  devoted 
to  coin.  Besides,  McCulloch  considers  the  amount  annually 
absorbed  by  the  East,  amounting  to  over  fifty  millions,  as  an 
entirely  separate  thing,  although  all  authorities  agree  that 
only  a  very  small  portion  of  this  amount  is  ever  converted 
into  coin.  If  we  take  these  two  last  items  into  considera 
tion,  we  shall  probably  be  near  the  truth  in  assuming  that 
of  the  precious  metals  produced  annually  two  thirds  are  con 
verted  into  ornaments,  and  only  one  third,  or  perhaps  less, 
into  coin. 

We  cannot  but  think  that  reflection  on  these  figures  will 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  85 

place  the  question  of  money  in  a  somewhat  novel  light  for 
most  readers^  and  will  make  our  comparison  of  our  complicated 
money  system  with  that  of  the  Mpongive  negroes  seem  less 
startling.  The  fact  is,  that  of  the  precious  metals  now  in  ex 
istence  and  annually  produced  by  far  the  largest  proportion  con 
sists  of,  or  is  converted  into,  ornaments,  and  that  from  this 
storehouse,  this  reservoir  as  it  were,  of  ornament,  a  portion  is 
being  constantly  withdrawn  for  temporary  use  as  security  for 
merchandise  borrowed.  Personal  ornaments  constitute  the 
great  reservoir,  the  parent  lake.  Into  that  ever  flows  the 
great  river  of  supply ;  from  that  is  ever  drawn  the  irrigating 
rivulet  of  coin,  and  into  that  flows  back  the  coin  rivulet  when 
it  has  done  its  work  elsewhere.  When  the  Mpongive  negro 
takes  off  his  golden  anklets,  he  takes  a  drop  from  the  great 
lake  of  ornament,  and  when  he  pledges  it  with  his  Shekiani 
neighbor,  he  turns  it  into  the  stream  of  money.  When  he 
brings  back  the  "  white  man's  trade  "  from  the  coast  and  re 
deems  his  pledge,  he  takes  back  the  drop  from  the  stream  of 
money,  and  replaces  it  in  the  lake  of  ornament.  As  long  as 
his  ornament  is  pledged  as  security  it  is  money.  The  moment 
it  ceases  to  be  pledged  as  security  it  ceases  to  be  money,  and 
again  becomes  ornament.  The  essential  transaction  is  the 
borrowing  of  the  merchandise.  So  long  as  ornament  is 
pledged  as  security  for  borrowed  merchandise,  it  is  money. 
So  soon  as  the  borrowed  merchandise,  or  the  equivalent  agreed 
upon,  is  returned,  the  money,  become  ornament  again,  ceases 
to  exist. 

Money  exists  only  as  a  security  for  borrowed  merchandise. 

Return  once  more  to  the  Mpongive  negro.  When  he  accepts 
his  neighbor's  personal  ornaments  for  the  merchandise  he  has 
lent  him,  it  is  not  the  ornaments  which  he  wants.  What  he 
does  want  is  "  white  man's  trade."  He  knows  the  original 
owner  will  bring  the  "  white  man's  trade,"  in  order  to  get  his 
ornaments  back  ;  but  he  also  knows  that  if  the  first  neighbor 
fails  to  redeem  his  pledge,  the  very  pledge  will  procure  him 
from  some  other  neighbor  the  articles  which  he  desires,  for  the 
reason  that  all  men  are  continually  striving  to  possess  them 
selves  of  an  increasing  supply  of  personal  ornaments.  In  this 
manner  the  brass  or  gold  ring  pledged  in  his  hands  as  security 


86  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  [July, 

for  one  negro's  debt  becomes  a  means  of  collecting  that  debt 
from  anybody  else,  enables  him  to  borrow  from  any  one  else 
the  merchandise  for  which  the  original  owner  first  pledged  it. 
It  thus  makes  no  difference  who  it  was  that  originally  pledged 
the  gold  ring  for  the  merchandise ;  the  holder  of  the  pledge 
knows  that  on  that  pledge  he  can  borrow  the  same  merchan 
dise  from  any  one  else,  and  every  owner  of  merchandise  will 
lend  his  goods  against  that  pledge,  without  inquiring  who  origi 
nally  owned  it.  In  this  manner  every  one's  desire  to  acquire 
personal  ornaments  induces  every  one  to  accept  them  as  secu 
rity  for  the  loan  of  every  kind  of  goods  ;  in  other  words,  money 
is  everywhere  accepted  as  security  for  borrowed  goods,  be 
cause  it  is  immediately  convertible  into  personal  ornament,  if 
no  longer  required  as  security. 

.  But  whoever  may  have  first  pledged  the  ring,  in  whoseso 
ever  hands  the  ring  may  be,  it  never  is  anything  else  but 
the  security  for  the  first  original  lot  of  merchandise  bor 
rowed.  The  original  borrower  of  the  ivory  tusk  is  the  origi 
nal  owner  of  the  ring.  When  he  returns  the  ivory  tusk  or  its 
equivalent,  the  ring  reverts  to  him.  As  it  ma^es  no  difference 
to  the  original  owner  of  the  tusk  who  gives  him  "  the  white 
man's  trade  "  in  exchange  for  his  tusk  or  in  exchange  for  the 
trader's  ring,  so  it  makes  no  difference  to  the  trader  from 
whom  he  gets  back  his  ring,  so  long  as  he  gets  it.  So  long  as 
the  trader  holds  the  tusk  his  ring  is  money  in  somebody  else's 
hands.  So  soon  as  he  returns  the  tusk,  or  its  equivalent,  some 
one  returns  him  his  ring,  or  another  like  it,  to  wear  as  orna 
ment  ;  no  matter  through  how  many  hands  the  ivory  tusk 
may  pass,  there  is  only  that  one  tusk  borrowed  against  that 
one  ring ;  no  matter  how  many  ivory  tusks  may  have  been 
borrowed,  only  one  ring  was  pledged  for  each ;  no  matter  how 
many  rings  there  may  be  pledged,  each  one  was  pledged  for 
one  tusk  only ;  no  matter  through  how  many  hands  each  ring 
may  pass,  there  is  only  one  tusk  pledged  for  each  one  ring. 
At  this  stage  of  civilization  the  money  in  existence  is  precisely 
equal  to  the  total  value  of  all  the  merchandise  at  that  moment 
borrowed. 

So  far   we   have   spoken   of  money   only   as  "  ornament " 
pledged.     It  is  very  easy  to  understand  how  these  ornaments 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  87 

gradually  assume  the  shape  -of  "  coin."  Rings  of  brass  or 
silver  or  gold  of  unequal  size  and  weight  are  occasionally 
marked  by  the  owner  as  weighing  so  many  pounds  or  ounces, 
in  order  to  establish  their  comparative  value  as  ornaments. 
When  once  thus  marked  they  become  more  desirable  for  use  as 
security  than  other  rings,  and  hence  certain  rings  get  grad 
ually  and  insensibly  set  apart  for  purposes  of  trade,  and  are 
no  longer  generally  used  as  ornament.  When  once  a  certain 
number  of  these  rings  is  thus  set  apart,  it  is  found  more  con 
venient  some  day  to  have  them  all  of  regular  size  and  weight, 
and  some  rich  owner  smelts  them  down,  and  recasts  them  of 
equal  size.  Again,  it  is  found  that  a  flat,  round  piece  of  gold 
is  more  suitable  than  the  hollow  ring,  and  then  some  are  recast 
in  that  shape.  Again,  some  petty  chieftain  stamps  his  mark 
upon  the  pieces,  to  show  to  all  men  that  each  one  is  of  a  cer 
tain  weight,  and  thus  by  slow,  successive,  almost  inappreciable 
steps,  gold  bracelets  and  anklets  develop  into  pillar  dollars  and 
double  eagles,  which  pass  current  over  half  the  globe,  which 
everybody  now  calls  coin,  which  nobody  ever  looks  upon  as  or 
nament,  but  which  everybody  regards  as  something  mysterious, 
incomprehensible,  and  of  unknown  origin. 

But  this  slight  change  of  the  anklet  and  bracelet  into  pillar 
dollars  and  double  eagles,  of  ornament  into  coin,  does  not 
change  the  essential  nature  of  the  thing  in  the  least  degree. 
Coin  in  no  respect  differs  from  uncoined  money,  except 
that  it  is  not  in  precisely  the  best  shape  for  use  as  orna 
ment.  Coin  is  precious  metal,  in  a  shape  slightly  more  val 
uable  for  use  as  money,  slightly  less  valuable  for  use  as 
ornament.  But,  with  this  trifling  difference,  coin  is  in  every 
respect  precisely  the  same  thing  as  the  money  we  have  hereto 
fore  spoken  of. 

Coin  is  a  personal  ornament,  temporarily  pledged  as  security 
for  merchandise  borrowed. 

Coin  exists  only  as  a  security  for  borrowed  merchandise. 

In  a  certain  stage  of  civilization  the  coin  in  existence  is 
precise/?/  equal  to  the  total  value  of  the  merchandise  at  that 
moment  borrowed. 

We  assume  that  all  trade  consists  originally  in  the  loan  of 
property  or  merchandise.  We  know  that  among  certain  bar- 


88  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

barous  peoples  trade  does  consist  simply  in  the  loan  of  prop 
erty  or  merchandise.  We  see  these  barbarous  peoples  carry 
ing  on  a  trade  of  considerable  importance  by  precisely  that 
method,  by  lending  merchandise  without  acknowledgment, 
without  security.  We  see  these  same  peoples  emerging  into  a 
somewhat  higher  sphere  of  development,  still  carrying  on 
their  trade  by  lending  their  merchandise,  but  now  demanding 
an  acknowledgment,  a  security,  and  giving  as  their  security 
personal  ornaments,  which  we  see  in  the  course  of  time  grad 
ually  develop  into  coined  money.  In  what  essential  aspect 
does  the  trade  of  these  peoples  differ  from  the  trade  of  our 
European  forefathers  of  the  Middle  Ages?  In  none  what 
ever.  The  trade  of  Northern  Europe  five  centuries  ago  was 
carried  on  almost  exactly  as  here  described.  Merchandise 
was  borrowed  and  coin  given  as  security,  and  trade  was 
limited  to  the  limited  amount  of  existing  coin  which  could 
be  given  as  security.  Up  to,  and  for  many  years  after,  the 
time  of  the  discovery  of  America,  the  increase  of  wealth  among 
European  nations  was  far  more  rapid  than  the  increase  in 
the  supply  of  precious  metals.  Gold,  silver,  diamonds,  and 
other  precious  things  cannot  be  produced  to  order.  The 
quantity  produced  depends  very  largely  upon  the  accidental 
discovery  of  the  hidden  sources  of  supply,  and  for  centuries 
scarcely  any  addition  was  made  to  the  stock  of  gold  and  silver 
at  the  world's  disposal.  At  the  same  time  that  the  wealth  of 
Europe  rapidly  increased  without  any  corresponding  increase 
in  the  supply  of  the  precious  metals,  the  existing  supply  was, 
in  ever-increasing  proportions,  absorbed  for  ornament  by  the 
wealthy.  The  celebrated  Raymond  Fugger  could  show  to  his 
liege  lord,  the  Duke  of  Augsburg,  "  a  little  turret  filled  with 
chains  and  trinkets  and  jewelry,  and  strange  coins  and  pieces 
of  gold  as  large  as  heads,  which  he  himself  said  were  worth 
more  than  a  million  florins."  On  the  other  hand,  the  entire 
village  of  Volknatshofen  with  all  its  inhabitants  was  sold  for 
only  two  hundred  florins.  So  extraordinary  was  then  the  dis 
proportion  between  the  amount  of  gold  and  silver  used  as 
ornament  and  that  in  use  as  coin ! 

This  condition  of  the  coin  supply  was  a  source  of  extreme 
difficulty  in  the  prosecution-  of  trade,  the  desire  to  trade,  to 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  89 

borrow  merchandise,  being  far  in  excess  of  the  supply  of 
precious  metals  required  as  security  for  the  merchandise  so 
borrowed.  It  was  in  this  deficient  supply  of  the  precious 
metals  that  paper  money,  in  all  its  forms,  had  its  origin.* 

The  increasing  wealth  led  to  an  ever-increasing  desire,  an 
ever-increasing  necessity  of  trade.  There  was  a  constantly 
increasing  supply  of  surplus  products,  which  the  producers 
were  anxious  to  exchange  for  the  surplus  products  of  other 
peoples  and  other  climates.  It  was  this  growing  desire  to  find 
new  markets  for  products  that,  more  than  any  other  single  in 
ducement,  led  to  the  great  geographical  discoveries  of  that 
age.  But  those  discoveries  and  the  trading  out  of  which 
they  grew,  were  hampered,  delayed,  and  diminished  by  the 
extremely  limited  supply  of  precious  metals  which  the  extrav 
agant  desire  for  ornament  had  left  for  the  uses  of  commerce. 
There  absolutely  was  not  coin  enough  to  carry  on  even  ordi 
nary  trade,  still  less  to  carry  on  the  unusual  trade  which  grew 
out  of  the  new  opening  of  entire  continents.  Either  the  trade 
must  be  abandoned,  or  the  owners  of  merchandise  must  accept 
other  security  for  the  loan  of  their  goods  than  coin.  First,  as 
a  rare  exception,  for  slight  amounts,  to  men  of  the  most  un 
bounded  credit,  and  afterwards,  occasionally  for  larger  sums, 
and  to  men  of  good  standing,  owners  of  goods  were  willing  to 
lend  them  without  requiring'  coin  security.  A  simple  written 
acknowledgment  from  the  borrower  that  he  was  indebted  for 
goods  to  the  amount  of  the  coin  security  which  he  would  other 
wise  have  given,  was  then  accepted  as  sufficient  security  in 
place  of  the  coin.  And  this  acknowledgment  was  the  first 
beginning  of  paper  money.  Whatever  form  paper  money  after 
wards  assumed,  in  whatever  disguises  it  appears,  it  never,  as 
will  soon  appear,  is  or  can  be  anything  else  but  what  we  have 
just  described  it, — a  written  acknowledgment  given  as  security 
for  merchandise  borrowed. 

To  the  thoughtful  reader  who  has  followed  us  so  far  it  must 


f  *  The  theory  of  money  here  enunciated  furnishes  at  the  same  time  the  only 
explanation  possible  of  the  cause  of  price,  a  subject  on  which  no  political  econo 
mist  has,  as  yet,  reached  satisfactory  conclusions.  The  price  of  every  article  is 
the  amount  of  precious  metal  that  a  person  is  willing  to  give  for  the  article  in 
preference  to  holding  the  same  amount  of  precious  metal  as  ornament 


90  Our  Currency ,  Past  and  Future.  [July? 

now  be  plain  why  this  long  introduction  hns  been  necessary. 
It  is  only  by  establishing  clearly  the  nature  of  money  that  we 
can  arrive  at  a  clear  understanding  of  the  nature  of  paper 
money,  or  currency. 

Money  is  a  personal  ornament  temporarily  pledged  as  security 
for  merchandise  borrowed. 

Paper  money  is  a  written  acknowledgment  given  as  security 
for  merchandise  borrowed. 

The  general  idea  of  paper  money  is  apt  to  become  confused 
by  the  belief  that  it  has  some  necessary  connection  with  bank 
ing.  The  connection  of  banks  with  paper  money  is  entirely 
accidental,  and  has  nothing  whatever  to  do  with  the  nature  of 
paper  money  itself.  When  a  borrower  of  merchandise  found 
that  his  own  written  acknowledgment  would  not  be  accepted 
as  security  therefor,  he  procured,  for  a  consideration,  the 
guaranty  of  some  other  wealthier  person  to  his  written  ac 
knowledgment.  This  practice  of  guaranteeing  other  persons' 
written  acknowledgments  gradually  grew  into  a  regular  busi 
ness  for  wealthy  individuals,  principally  bankers,  or  incorpo 
rated  companies,  and  instead  of  guaranteeing  other  persons' 
acknowledgments,  the  banks  gradually  adopted  the  system  of 
lending  to  these  other  persons  their  own  (the  banks')  acknowl 
edgments.  So  that  the  paper  money  issued  by  a  bank  in  no 
essential  respect  differs  from  the  original  paper  money,  but 
is  still  a  written  acknowledgment  given  as  security  for  mer 
chandise  borrowed. 

If  these  views  of  the  nature  of  money,  of  coin  and  of  paper 
money,  are  correct,  there  are  certain  conclusions  to  be  derived 
from  them,  which,  if  rightly  deduced,  must  have  the  force  of 
economic  laws,  and  be  at  the  same  time  of  the  utmost  impor 
tance  in  their  practical  application. 

I.  As  no  coin  can  exist  except  as  security  for  borrowed  mer 
chandise  (since  the  precious  metals,  when  not  used  as  coin,  are 
immediately  converted  back  into  ornament)  ;  as  no  paper  money 
can  exist  except  as  a  substitute  for  coin,  in  other  words,  as  a 
security  for  borrowed  merchandise  ;  as  no  bank  can  issue  paper 
money  except  as  a  substitute  for  the  paper  money  of  individuals, 
in  other  words,  as  a  security  for  borrowed  merchandise,  —  it 
follows  that  the  amount  of  paper  money  required  by  a  nation  is 


1870.]  Our  Currency )  Past  and  Future.  91 

measured  solely  and  exclusively  by  the  amount  of  merchandise 
borrowed  for  which  the  lender  of  the  merchandise  may  choose  to 
exact  paper  money  as  security.  In  other  words,  the  supply  of 
acknowledgments  for  borrowed  merchandise  will  always  be 
equal  to  the  merchandise  borrowed,  unless,  by  law  or  other 
wise,  people  are  prohibited  from  giving  acknowledgments. 
The  essential  fact  always  is  the  borrowing  of  the  merchandise. 
This  alone  is  trade  ;  by  this  alone  is  progress  possible.  The 
merchandise,  the  plough,  the  seed-corn  that  lies  idle  in  the 
New  York  warehouse  is  dead  and  useless ;  but  when  lent  to 
the  Western  farmer  it  becomes  a  waving  field  of  grain.  The 
timber,  lying  idle  on  the  farm,  is  dead  and  useless,  but  when 
lent  to  the  ship-builder  becomes  a  noble  vessel,  that  carries  the 
grain  where  it  is  exchanged  for  tea  and  coffee  and  spices  and 
salt.  The  essential  fact,  the  inevitable  fact,  which  always 
remains,  is  the  borrowing  of  the  merchandise.  The  giving 
an  acknowledgment  therefor  is  but  an  incident,  a  condition. 
But  if  that  incident  is  not  permitted  to  develop  itself,  if 
that  condition  is  prevented  from  being  fulfilled,  the  essential 
fact  itself  is  undone.  To  prohibit  the  giving  of  an  acknowl 
edgment  for  merchandise  borrowed  is  to  prohibit  the  borrow 
ing  itself.  To  prevent  the  issuing  of  paper  money  is  to  pre 
vent  trade. 

The  prevention,  of  course,  is  not  absolute  ;  for  trade  is  itself 
so  entirely  absolute  a  necessity  that  it  cannot  be  prevented. 
Means  are  still  found  to  trade,  but  they  are  inconvenient  sub 
stitutes.  Practically,  the  deficient  supply  of  paper  money  com 
pels  merchants  to  do  a  large  amount  of  business  by  means  of 
what  is  commonly  called  "credit";  that  is,  by  lending  their 
merchandise  without  any  security  whatever,  virtually  returning 
to  the  absurd  and  barbarous  practices  of  the  Mpongive  and 
Shekiani  negroes  on  the  Gaboon.  If  it  were  not  for  the  absurd 
restrictions  on  the  issue  of  paper  money,  there  would  be  no 
need  whatever  for  this  injurious,  hazardous,  wasteful,  demoral 
izing  system  of  commercial  credits. 

II.  The  amount  of  paper  money  required  by  a  nation  is  con 
stantly  fluctuating,  and  fluctuates  precisely  in  inverse  ratio  to 
the  fluctuations  in  the  two  principal  causes  which  are  gen 
erally  supposed  to  regulate  it.  The  amount  of  paper  money 


92  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

required  depends — in  this  country  especially  —  mainly  upon 
the  crops.  Contrary  to  the  general  belief,  good  crops  call  for 
less  money  than  bad  crops,  because  bad  crops  make  high  prices, 
and  high  prices  swell  the  amounts,  in  dollars  and  cents,  of 
the  daily  business  transactions  of  the  country ;  good  crops 
make  low  prices,  small  nominal  transactions,  and  less  paper 
money. 

Next  to  the  crops,  —  leaving  aside  wars,  pestilence,  etc.  — 
the  most  powerful  cause  in  influencing  the  amount  of  paper 
money  required  is  the  amount  of  the  precious  metals  in  use 
as  coin.  A  large  amount  of  trade  is  still  done  everywhere  for 
coin.  The  more  coin  there  is  in  existence  or  in  use  (which  is 
practically  always  the  same  thing),  the  less  paper  money  is 
required  to  be  substituted  for  it.  The  less  coin  there  is  in 
existence  or  in  use,  the  more  paper  money  is  required  to  be 
substituted  for  it.  Nothing  could  show  more  clearly  than 
this  the  utter  fallacy  of  the  theory,  that  the  issues  of  paper 
money  must  or  can  be  regulated  by  the  amount  of  coin  re 
serve  held  by  banks,  over  which  they  have  no  control. 

Very  little  attention  has  as  yet  been  paid  to  the  extraordi 
nary  changes  produced  by  the  conversion  of  coin  into  ornament, 
or  the  corresponding  increased  consumption  of  bullion  for  orna 
ment  and  diminished  supply  thus  left  for  coinage.  Only  very 
imperfect  statistics  on  this  subject  are  in  existence,  but  they 
are  so  extraordinary  in  their  teachings,  that  it  is  scarcely  too 
much  to  say  that  the  great  money  panics  of  the  last  sixty 
years  have  been,  if  not  actually  produced,  certainly  largely 
influenced,  by  the  amount  of  the  precious  metals  converted 
into  ornament.  We  have  already  given  the  authority  of  Jacob 
and  McCulloch  in  support  of  the  assertion  that  by  far  the 
larger  portion  of  the  precious  metals  exists  in  the  shape  of 
ornament ;  we  can  now  adduce  the  English  revenue  returns  to 
show  the  nature  of  the  fluctuations  in  the  annual  additions  to 
the  stock  of  ornament.  These  returns  are,  in  the  nature  of 
things,  highly  imperfect,  but  are  too  striking  to  be  disregarded. 
They  show,  in  the  first  place,  that  throughout  the  Napoleonic 
wars  the  annual  consumption  of  gold  and  silver  for  ornament 
steadily  increased,  owing  undoubtedly  to  the  great  wealth  ac 
cumulated  by  army  contractors,  etc.,  increasing  nearly  sixty 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  93 

per  cent  from  1800  to  1810,  and  falling  off  again  after  the 
peace.  The  years  from  1815  to  1825  show  no  material  change, 
but  in  1824  and  1825  England  was  visited  by  the  great  Mexican 
and  South  American  mining  excitement,  by  which  many  fools 
and  rogues  grew  suddenly  rich,  or  at  least  thought  they  did, 
and  the  consumption  of  gold  and  silver  rose  over  sixty  per  cent 
above  what  it  had  been  in  1820,  and  to  nearly  double  that  of 
1800.  It  must  be  remembered  that  during  this  time  the  total 
gold  and  silver  production  of  the  world  was  very  small.  In 
December,  1825,  occurred  the  great  "  December  panic,"  prob 
ably  the  severest  England  has  ever  known,  during  which 
nothing  but  the  accidental  discovery  of  a  box  of  unused  one- 
pound  notes  saved  the  Bank  of  England  from  total  collapse. 
From  that  year  the  consumption  steadily  declined,  until  in 
1831  it  was  less  than  one  half  that  of  1825,  and  had  fallen 
below  even  that  of  1800.  From  1831  to  1836  a  steady  rise 
again  took  place,  until  in  the  latter  year  the  consumption  had 
risen  over  fifty  per  cent  above  that  of  1831,  and  in  1837  the 
financial  world  was  once  more  convulsed.  From  that  year  to 
1843  is  another  period  of  steady  decline,  the  latter  year  falling 
almost  as  low  as  1831.  Then  follows  another  rise  to  1846,  show 
ing  an  increase  of  nearly  thirty  per  cent,  followed  by  the  great 
crisis  of  1847,  and  a  decline  in  the  gold  consumption  of  1848  far 
below  that  even  of  1800.*  These  figures  show  conclusively  that 
the  supply  of  gold  of  which  banks  can  obtain  control  —  apart 
even  from  the  annual  production — is  influenced  by  causes  ut 
terly  beyond  their  reach  and  beyond  the  reach  of  legislation. 
The  object  of  paper  money  is  to  neutralize  these  causes,  and  to 
supply  the  place  of  coin  withdrawn,  not  to  be  withdrawn  with  it, 
nor  to  intensify  the  public  need  by  taking  away  the  substitute  at 
the  very  time  that  the  real  thing  is  being  taken  away.  In  this 
view  it  is  impossible  to  imagine  a  greater  folly  than  to  attempt  to 
regulate  the  supply  of  paper  money  by  the  supply  of  coin.  The 
supply  of  paper  money  can  be  regulated  solely  and  exclusively 
by  the  wants  of  trade.  If  legislation  will  refrain  from  inter 
fering,  no  one  will  issue  one  dollar  of  paper  money  that  is  not 
wanted,  because  no  one  will  give  an  acknowledgment  of  bor 
rowed  merchandise  unless  he  has  actually  borrowed  it. 

*  There  are  no  later  figures  accessible. 


94  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

III.    There  should  be  no  legal  ^restriction  on, the  amount  of 
paper  money  issued.  —  The  practical  objections  to  an  unlimited 
paper  currency  are  only  two.     One,  the  doubtful  safety  of  the 
notes,  will  be  considered  further  on ;  the  other,  their  supposed 
influence  on  prices,  is  a  delusion  so  often  refuted  that  it  seems 
unnecessary  to  discuss  it  at  great  length.     If  our  view  of  the 
nature  of  paper  money  is  correct,  —  that  it  is  not,  and  never 
can  be,  anything  but  an  acknowledgment  of  merchandise  bor 
rowed,  which  borrowing  of  merchandise  will  and  does  proceed 
in  spite  of  every  difficulty  and  hindrance,  so  that  the  refusal  of 
the  permission  to  issue  paper  money  is  simply  a  denial  of  the 
right  to  give  an  acknowledgment  for  the  merchandise  bor 
rowed, —  it  is  utterly  impossible  to  conceive  how  restoring  the 
right  to  give  that  acknowledgment  can  even  remotely  affect 
the  price  of  the  merchandise.     All  the   unlimited  issues  of 
paper  money  that  the  world  has  yet  seen  have  been  made  in 
times  of  war  and  revolution,  when  property  was  being  rapidly 
destroyed  and  wasted,  when  property  was  being  taken  by  force, 
not  borrowed,  and  when  the  possible  doubt  of  the  return  of 
the  property  taken  or  borrowed  rapidly  grew  into  a  certainty 
that  it  could  not  possibly  be  returned.     Such  issues  of  paper 
money  have  been  accompanied  by,  and  have  even  caused,  great 
and  violent  fluctuations  in  the  prices  of  merchandise.     But 
though  qrdinar.ly  called  paper  money,  these  issues  were  in  no 
true  sense  of  the  word  paper  money ;  the  property  which  they 
acknowledged  was  not  borrowed,  it  was  taken  by  force,  either 
actually,  by  levy,  or  more  insidiously,  by  making  the  notes 
legal  tender.     It  is  evident  that  any  advance  in  price  result 
ing  from  such  issues  of  so-called  paper  money  has  no  applica 
tion  to  real  paper  money,  which  is,  of  course,  only  given  as  an 
acknowledgment  of  merchandise  borrowed  ivith  the  consent  of 
the  lender.     Until  owners  of  merchandise  lend  their  merchan 
dise  merely  for  the  sake  of  lending  it,  and  borrowers  borrow 
merely  for  the  sake  of  borrowing,  it  is  impossible  to  conceive 
how  the  permission  to  acknowledge  the  borrowing  can  lead  to 
one  single  additional  act  of  borrowing.     And  if  the  permission 
to  issue  paper  money  cannot  increase  the  number  or  amount 
of  transactions,  how  can  it  possibly  increase  the  price  of  the 
merchandise  ? 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  95 

IV.  A  paper  money  redeemable  in  coin  is  nonsense,  is  an 
impossibility.  —  As  all  the  precious  metals  in  existence  are  con 
stantly  in  active  demand  for  ornament,  and  as  all  the  coin  in 
existence  is  constantly  in  active  use  in  trade  (otherwise  it 
would  immediately  be  converted  back  into  ornament,  a  process 
which  always  takes  place  largely,  for  example,  during  a  suspen 
sion  of  specie  payments) ;  and  as  all  the  coin  in  use  is  sufficient 
only  to  carry  on  the  very  smallest  part  of  the  trade  of  a  country, 
and  as  paper  money  had  to  be  created  to  take  the  place  of  coin 
that  did  not  exist,  where,  in  the  name  of  logic,  is  the  coin  to 
come  from  to  redeem  the  paper  money  ?     It  should  not  need  a 
reference  to  facts  to  prove  that  paper  money  cannot  be,  as  it  is 
called,  redeemed.     Paper  money,  though  nominally  reading, 
"  I  promise  to  pay,"  etc.,  dollars  and  cents,  is  nevertheless,  if 
we  have  rightly  described  it,  no  promise  to  pay  money  at  all. 
Its  real  meaning  is,  I  owe  this  man  as  much  merchandise  as 
so  many  gold  dollars  and  cents  will  buy.     To  demand  the  gold 
dollars  is  virtually  a  perversion  of  the  contract,  sanctioned  by 
law  and  enforced  by  ignorance  and  selfish  greed.     But  the 
facts  show  more  clearly  than  anything  else  that  paper  money 
cannot  be  redeemed.     There  is  not  in  the  world  gold  enough 
to  redeem  the  paper  money,  even  if  the  whole  of -the  gold  were 
not  at  all  times  wanted  for  other  and  better  purposes.     As  long 
as  no  one  wants  to  redeem  paper  money  it  can  always  be 
redeemed.     As  soon  as  any  one  wants  to  redeem  paper  money, 
redemption  becomes   either   absolutely  impossible  or  else  is 
accomplished  only  at  the  expense  of  universal  injustice  and 
national  misery.     The  history  of  all  the  great  banks  that  the 
world  has  known  shows  that  as  soon  as  redemption  in  coin  is 
demanded  it  becomes  impossible.     Paper  money  redeemable 
in  coin  is  one  of  the  delusions  of  the  past,  like  the  squaring  of 
the  circle  or  the  philosopher's  stone.     The  sooner  it  is  aban 
doned  the  better  for  all  peoples. 

V.  There  is  no  such  thing'  as  redeeming  paper  money.     Pa 
per  money  is  cancelled,  not  redeemed.  —  The  Western  mer 
chant  who  comes  to  New  York  in  the  spring  to  buy  ploughs 
and  harnesses  to  sell  to  Western  farmers  knows  that  his  indi 
vidual  acknowledgment  will  not  be  accepted  by  the  New  York 
manufacturers'  agent  as  security.     He  goes  to  the  bank  of  his 


96  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future. 

town,  and  there  procures,  for  a  consideration,  and  against 
security,  the  acknowledgments  of  that  bank  for  the  amount 
that  he  expects  to  buy  in  New  York.  The  acknowledgments 
of  the  bank  are  acceptable  to  the  New  York  dealer,  and  he  sells 
the  ploughs.  So  far  it  is  clear  that  the  New-Yorker  holds 
the  acknowledgments  of  the  Western  bank  for  the  ploughs  sold 
or  loaned.  Practically  the  New-Yorker  does  not  retain  those 
acknowledgments ;  he  pays  them  into  his  own  bank,  or  buys 
other  ploughs  with  them,  or  spends  them  for  his  living.  But 
wherever  the  acknowledgments  (the  Western  bank-notes)  go, 
they  always  are  and  remain  simply  the  acknowledgments  for  the 
ploughs  borrowed.  Suppose,  for  simplicity's  sake,  the  New- 
Yorker  did  retain  those  identical  bank-bills  in  his  safe,  or  in 
his  bank  (as  he  really  does  at  all  times  retain  some  bank- 
bills)  ;  in  the  summer  the  farmers  who  bought  the  ploughs 
send  in  to  the  Western  merchant  their  wheat;  he  in  turn 
sends  it  to  the  New-Yorker,  who  thereupon  hands  him  back 
his  bank-notes,  his  acknowledgments  for  the  ploughs;  the 
Westerner  returns  the  notes  to  his  bank,  and  takes  out  the 
security  he  had  left  for  them.  Now,  what  becomes  of  those 
notes,  those  acknowledgments  for  ploughs  borrowed  in  New 
York?  They  have  virtually  ceased  to  exist.  The  acknowl 
edgment  of  an  obligation  has  no  existence  the  moment  the 
obligation  itself  is  complied  with.  The  ploughs,  or  their  equiv 
alents,  have  been  returned  to  the  original  lender,  the  transac 
tion  is  closed,  the  acknowledgment  has  no  meaning,  is  virtu 
ally  cancelled.  The  notes  themselves,  it  is  true,  the  pieces  of 
paper,  are  not  destroyed.  They  lie  safe  in  the  vaults  of  the 
Western  bank,  where  they  are  no  more  money  than  the  anklets 
of  the  Mpongive  trader  on  the  Gaboon.  They  are  to  all  in 
tents  and  purposes  cancelled ;  they  become  notes  again  only 
when  issued  again  as  acknowledgments  of  some  fresh  trans 
action. 

This  is  really  the  true  nature  of  the  course  which  a  bank 
note  takes,  though  in  practice  it  is  less  simple.  In  practice 
the  New-Yorker  uses  the  notes  to  pay  the  manufacturer  from 
whom  he  bought  the  ploughs,  or  to  buy  a  new  stock ;  the  man 
ufacturer  pays  it  to  the  lumber-dealer  and  to  the  workmen  he 
employs,  and  so  on,  until  it  gets  into  the  hands  of  the  grain- 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  97 

dealer,  who  in  due  time  takes  it  to  the  West  and  pays  it 
to  the  farmer,  who  hands  it  over  to  the  Western  merchant, 
who  finally  pays  it  back  into  the  bank.  In  the  ordinary  course 
of  trade  bank-notes  are  never  redeemed  in  coin,  but  redeem 
themselves,  as  it  were,  by  the  transactions  of  trade,  and  are 
cancelled. 

VI.  Redemption  is  required  only  to  settle  balances  and  to 
test  the  solvency  of  the  issuers.  —  If  the  New  York  seller  of  the 
ploughs,  or  the  bank  with  whom  he  deposited  the  Western 
notes,  had  felt  doubtful  about  the  security  of  these  acknowl 
edgments,  they  would  have  sent  them  to  the  Western  bank, 
and  demanded  their  redemption;  not  Bother  wise,  because  as 
long  as  the  Western  merchant's  engagement  remains  unful 
filled,  as  long  as  he  has  not  sent  the  grain  of  the  West  to  the 
East  in  actual  payment  of  his  ploughs,  the  notes  are  required 
at  the  East  to  represent  that  engagement,  and  they  are  more 
desirable  for  the  time  than  any  other  property,  provided  there 
is  no  doubt  of  their  safety.     But  should  a  doubt  as  to  the  latter 
arise,  they  would  then  be  sent  for  u  redemption."     Supposing, 
then,  the  Western  bank  said,  "  I  gave  these  notes  in  place  of 
the  notes  or  acknowledgments  of  the  man  to  whom  you  sold 
your  ploughs ;  if  you  do  not  wish  my  acknowledgments,  take 
his  "  ;  of  course  this  would  not  suit  the  New  York  banker.    His 
answer  would  be,  "  I  need  something  that  will  be  acceptable 
everywhere  as  an  acknowledgment ;  the  Western  merchant's 
acknowledgment  may  be  good  enough,  but  no  one  will  take  it 
from  me  in  payment  of  debts  "  ;  and  of  course  he  would  be 
right.      The  only  reason  for  which  redemption  can  be  desired 
is  fear  for  safety.     The  only  redemption  which  can  be  required 
is  redemption  with  some  other  acknowledgment  more  safe  than 
that  of  the  issuer.     We  have  already  seen  that  redemption  in 
coin  is  an  impossibility.     What  other  redemption  is  possible  ? 
Evidently  only  that  which,  in  a  very  imperfect,  half-developed 
form,  exists  now:  redemption  in  securities  of  the  United  States. 

VII.  The  only  redemption  practicable  is  redemption  in  United 
States  securities.  —  Virtually,  this  redemption  already  exists. 
The  notes  of  National  Banks  are  secured  by  a  deposit  in  the 
Treasury  Department  of  a  corresponding  amount  of  United 
States  Bonds,  which  are  sold  for  the  benefit  of  the  note-holders 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  7 


98  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  [Juty> 

in  case  of  the  failure  of  the  bank.  But  between  the  bill-holder 
and  this  redemption  in  bonds  intervenes  a  cumbrous  and  sense 
less  redemption  in  something  else.  The  National  Bank  Act 
was  really  one  of  the  first  steps  toward  the  emancipation  of  the 
world  from  the  barbarous  specie  redemption.  But  it  was  only 
an  unconscious  step  in  that  direction,  for  it  sought  to  perpetu 
ate  the  very  evil  which  it  is  destined  ultimately  to  cure.  It 
provided  that  the  notes  of  the  banks  should  be  redeemable  in 
greenbacks,  repeating  precisely  the  exploded  folly  of  coin  re 
demption,  first  furnishing  a  substitute  to  take  the  place  of  the 
insufficient  original,  and  then  demanding  that  the  insufficient 
original  shall  be  made  still  more  insufficient  by  being  kept  on 
hand  to  redeem  the  substitute  !  If  this  intermediate  redemp 
tion  were  removed,  the  national  bank-notes  would  be  far  more 
nearly  a  true  currency  than  they  are  now.  If  the  national 
banks  could  at  any  time  redeem  their  bonds  from  the  Treasury 
by  presenting  a  corresponding  amount  of  any  national  bank 
notes,  the  notes  of  the  national  bank  would  approach  more 
nearly  to  a  perfect  paper  money  than  any  that  has  ever  before 
existed. 

VIII.  Redemption  is  prevented  by  making  the  bank  currency 
free.  —  We  have  seen  that  when  the  Western  merchant  sends 
his  grain  to  the  New  York  plough-dealer,  and  brings  back  the 
notes  of  the  Western  bank,  these  notes  are  virtually  cancelled. 
But  the  notes  themselves,  the  pieces  pf  paper,  are  not  de 
stroyed.  They  lie  in  the  vaults  of  the  Western  bank.  Now 
it  is  precisely  as  they  Lie  there  that  they  do  all  the  mischief  that 
paper  money  is  ever  capable  of  accomplishing.  While  the  New 
York  plough-dealer  held  those  notes  in  his  safe,  the  Western 
merchant  was  paying  the  Western  bank  interest  on  them.  As 
soon  as  he  no  longer  absolutely  requires  them,  he  immediately 
returns  them  to  the  bank,  in  order  to  stop  the  interest  he  is 
paying.  He  receives  back  from  the  bank  the  security  which  he 
had  given  and  his  own  acknowledgment  which  accompanied 
the  security,  and  then  destroys  his  own  acknowledgment,  which, 
like  a  paid  note,  has  no  longer  any  meaning.  He  destroys  his 
acknowledgment,  because  its  use  cost  him  interest.  The  bank 
does  not  destroy  or  cancel  its  acknowledgments.  Why  ?  Be 
cause  it  receives  them  from  the  government  for  nothing  !  If 
the  bank  had  to  pay  for  its  notes  the  same,  or  nearly  the  same 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  99 

interest  as  the  merchant  does,  it  would  immediately  cancel 
them  as  soon  as  they  ceased  to  earn  more  interest  than  they 
cost.  But  as  the  bank  gets  the  notes  for  nothing,  everything 
it  earns  with  them  is  clear  gain.  While  the  notes  lie  in  its 
vaults,  they  earn  nothing.  The  temptation  is  irresistible  to 
make  them  earn  something.  Every  trick,  scheme,  and  device 
is  resorted  to  "  to  keep  the  notes  out,"  that  is,  to  induce  some 
body  to  enter  into  some  transaction  which  will  cause  him  to 
require  the  acknowledgment  or  notes  of  the  bank  in  place  of 
his  own.  Now,  as  by  the  foolish  limitation  of  the  law  only 
certain  amounts  of  notes  can  be  issued,  and  as  this  amount  is 
never  sufficient  to  perform  all  the  transactions  which  take  place 
at  busy  seasons  of  the  year,  and  as  many  transactions  are  thus 
rendered  difficult  and  unprofitable  at  those  times,  owing  to  the 
impossibility  of  procuring  the  necessary  acknowledgments  for 
them,  many  persons  who  do  not  understand  the  nature  of 
money  and  its  origin  think  that  those  transactions  which  were 
unprofitable  when  "  money  was  scarce  "  will  become  profitable 
when  "  money  is  easy,"  and  are  frequently,  nay,  constantly, 
tempted  to  enter  into  wild  schemes  and  speculations,  and  all 
sorts  of  absurd  combinations,  as  soon  as  they  find  it  possible 
to  procure  the  acknowledgments  which  they  could  not  obtain 
when  they  were  more  urgently  needed  for  the  legitimate 
business  of  the  country.  This  would,  in  itself,  be  a  compara 
tively  light  evil.  But  in  its  consequences  it  is  a  grave  one. 
These  acknowledgments,  once  lent  by  the  banks  to  specula 
tive  customers,  can  scarcely  ever  be  recovered  in  time  when 
they  are  wanted  by  the  merchant  to  buy  his  ploughs.  In  this 
way  the  legitimate  business  of  the  country  is  deprived  of  even 
the  limited  amount  of  paper  money  permitted  by  law,  when  it 
most  needs  it,  solely  because  that  paper  money,  costing  the 
bank  nothing,  is  not  cancelled,  as  it  should  have  been,  the  mo 
ment  its  real  duty  has  been  performed,  and  as  it  would  have  been 
had  it  not  been  obtained  by  the  bank  free  of  cost.  If  paper 
money  could  at  all  times  be  obtained  in  sufficient  quanti 
ties  to  enable  trade  to  carry  on  its  transactions  by  means  of 
paper  money,  that  is,  to  give  paper  acknowledgments  for  all 
merchandise  borrowed,  there  never  would  be  any  temptation  to 
enter  into  any  transaction  merely  on  account  of  the  ease  with 


100 

which  the  money  could  be  obtained,  and  thus  one  of  the  great 
est  evils  anticipated  from  an  unlimited  issue  would,  on  the  con 
trary,  be  actually  corrected  by  it.  If  the  banks  did  not  get 
their  currency  for  nothing  they  would  not  be  tempted  to  lend 
it  for  fictitious  schemes  that  ultimately  involve  everybody  in 
loss,  and  deprive  legitimate  trade  of  its  necessary  instruments. 
If  the  banks,  like  the  merchant,  had  to  pay  interest  for  the 
paper  money  which  the  government  issues  to  them,  they  would 
themselves  at  all  times  be  only  too  anxious  to  redeem  it  the 
moment  they  could  not  lend  it  at  a  better  rate  of  interest  than 
that  which  they  pay  the  government  for  it.  It  is  thus  simply 
the  fact  that  the  banks  obtain  the  currency  for  nothing,  which 
at  the  very  same  time  induces  reckless  speculation  and  violent 
fluctuations  in  the  rate  of  interest,  and  prevents  the  notes  from 
being  redeemable  when  not  required. 

Paper  money,  or  true  currency,  is  an  acknowledgment  of  in 
debtedness  for  merchandise  borrowed.  There  should  be  no 
limit  to  every  one's  right  to  borrow  as  much  merchandise  as  he 
pleases,  and  to  give  acknowledgments  therefor.  If  his  own  ac 
knowledgments  are  not  acceptable  as  security,  there  should  be 
no  limit  to  the  right  of  everybody  else  to  give  acknowledgments 
for  him.  If  this  is  the  business  of  banks,  there  should  be  no  limit 
to  their  right  to  issue  such  acknowledgments,  such  paper  money. 

Redemption  of  paper  money  in  some  way  is  necessary  for 
the  settlement  of  balances,  and  as  a  test  of  the  solvency  of  the 
issuers.  Redemption  in  coin  is  impossible.  The  only  redemp 
tion  possible  is  a  redemption  in  United  States  bonds,  which 
must  be  simple,  direct,  accessible  to  all,  and  self-acting.  t •' 

Self-acting  redemption  is  obtainable  only  by  making  it  the 
interest  of  the  issuer  to  redeem.  It  can  become  his  interest  to 
do  so  only  when  the  currency  is  a  source  of  expense  to  him 
self,  —  when  the  issuer  has  himself  to  pay  interest  for  it. 

Self-acting  redemption  is  an  absolute  cure  for  all  speculation 
and  reckless  enterprise  based  upon  cheap  money,  the  same  as 
an  unlimited  supply  is  an  absolute  cure  for  high  rates  of  inter 
est  and  currency  panics. 

If  the  entire  United  States  debt  were  funded  into  a  four  per 
cent  coin  bond,  there  would  be  in  round  numbers  two  thousand 
millions  of  four  per  cent  coin  bonds  in  existence.  Suppose, 


1870.]  Our  Currency,  Past  and  Future.  101 

then,  it  were  settled  by  law,  that  every  individual  or  corpora 
tion  could,  on  application  to  any  sub-treasurer  of  the  United 
States,  obtain  all  the  greenbacks  that  he  desired,  in  lots  of  ten 
thousand  dollars,  in  exchange  for  these  United  States  four  per 
cent  coin  bonds,  —  receiving  the  par  value  of  the  bonds  and 
the  interest  accrued  at  the  time  of  depositing  them, —  and  that 
every  individual  or  corporation  could  in  the  same  way  receive 
any  amount  of  United  States  four  per  cent  coin  bonds  that  he 
desired,  against  the  deposit  of  greenbacks,  paying  for  them  the 
par  value  of  the  bonds  and  the  interest  accrued  at  the  time  of 
receiving  them.  Should  we  not  then  have  a  currency  as  nearly 
perfect  as  it  is  possible  to  make  it,  according  to  the  views  just 
given  of  what  currency  really  is  ? 

Such  a  currency  would  be  practically  unlimited ;  for  as  soon  as 
money  came  to  be  worth  more  than  four  per  cent  in  coin,  every 
owner  of  bonds  could  obtain  all  the  money  he  wanted  at  four  per 
cent  coin  interest,  with  the  certainty  of  getting  back  his  bonds  at 
par  whenever  he  wanted  them.  Such  a  currency  would  be  self- 
redeeming,  for  so  soon  as  money  should  cease  to  be  worth  more 
than  four  per  cent  in  coin  the  holders  of  the  currency  would 
immediately  exchange  it  for  bonds,  with  the  certainty  of  getting 
back  their  currency  at  any  moment  they  might  want  it. 

Such  a  currency  would  materially  reduce  the  interest  charge 
upon  the  public  debt.  The  very  condition  necessary  to  make 
it  self-redeeming  —  that  it  should  be.  costly  to  the  owner  — 
would  constitute  a  source  of  large  national  revenue  without 
creating  fresh  taxes  of  any  kind.  For,  as  long  as  the  bonds 
were  deposited  with  the  Treasury  as  security  for  greenbacks, 
they  would  not,  of  course,  bring  the  owner  any  income, — he 
would  derive  his  income  from  the  lending  of  the  greenbacks, 
—  and  the  Treasury  would  save  the  interest  during  the  whole 
of  this  time.  Nor  would  this  gain  to  the  Treasury  involve  a 
loss  to  any  one.  It  simply  causes  the  Treasury  —  or  really 
the  people  —  to  derive  the  benefit  of  a  saving  which  hereto- 
ore  was  entirely  lost  to  the  country  by  the  idle  hoarding  and 
enforced  uselessness  of  large  amounts  of  capital,  held  for  the 
delusive  purposes  of  redemption,  or  unemployed  from  want  of 
the  necessary  "  money  "  facilities. 

Such  a  currency,  we  believe,  is  the  currency  of  the  future. 

JAS.  B.  HODGSEJN. 


102  Jjuther  and  German  Freedom. 


ART.  V.  —  LUTHER,  AND  THE  EARLY  GERMAN  STRUGGLES  FOR 

FREEDOM. 

SOME  months  ago,  much  astonishment  was  created  in  Ger 
many  by  a  decree  of  the  King  of  Prussia,  issued  from  that 
saintly  place,  Baden-Baden,  ordaining  a  commemoration  of 
the  anniversary  of  Luther's  birthday  by  making  it  a  "  day  of 
special  prayer."  The  reason  for  such  a  commemoration  was 
not  very  obvious.  The  wording  of  the  decree  only  alluded 
in  vague  terms  to  the  "  great  movements  which  at  the  pres 
ent  time  agitate  the  religious  life  of  nations  and  individuals, 
and  which  are  pressing  forward  to  a  serious  decision." 
Some  thought  they  could  detect  in  these  words  an  allusion 
to  the  (Ecumenical  Council,  which  was  then  on  the  point 
of  assembling.  Others  objected  to  this  that  it  was  scarcely 
likely  that  official  notice  would  be  thus  taken  by  a  Protes 
tant  government  of  the  solemn  farce  which  was  to  be  en 
acted  at  Rome.  To  add  to  the  mystery,  a  Berlin  paper, 
influential  at  court,  distinctly  declared  that  this  was  not  a 
time  when  Protestants  ought  to  urge  their  differences  with 
the  Roman  Church,  but  that  both  should  combine  against  the 
common  enemy. 

The  public  were  thus  left  in  the  dark  as  to  the  real  meaning 
of  King  William's  decree.  An  opportunity  has,  however,  been 
given  for  defining  more  precisely,  according  to  the  results  of 
modern  inquiry,  the  position  occupied  by  Luther  in  that  gigan 
tic  struggle  which  is  known  as  "  The  Reformation,"  about 
the  original  aim  and  scope  of  which  so  many  misunderstand 
ings  prevail.  .  The  popular  view  of  it  is,  that  it  was  an  exclu 
sively  religious  movement,  and  to  many  the  names  of  Luther 
and  the  German  Reformation  have  merely  a  theological  sig 
nificance.  As  this,  however,  is  a  mistake,  than  which  it 
would  be  impossible  to  commit  a  greater,  I  purpose,  in  this 
article,  to  point  out  the  wider  range  wkich  the  German  move 
ment  of  the  sixteenth  century  had.  In  doing  so  I  shall  be 
obliged,  for  the  better  understanding  of  it,  to  treat  of  some 
previous  popular  movements  which  aimed  at  a  great  national 
transformation. 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  103 

In  considering  what  is  usually  called  the  German  Reforma 
tion  Epoch,  we  must  remember,  in  the  first  place,  that  it  was, 
properly  speaking,  a  time  of  national  revolution  in  a  three 
fold  sense,  —  political,  social,  and  religious.  In  Europe  a  cus 
tom  long  prevailed,  though  it  is  now  visibly  on  the  decline, 
of  regarding  the  French  Revolution  as  the  starting-point  of 
modern  popular  history.  The  principles  of  that  Revolution  of 
'89  and  '92  no  doubt  agitate  the  European  world  to  this  day ; 
but  it  was  preceded  by  the  American  Revolution,  with  its  noble 
declaration  of  the  rights  of  man,  whilst  the  English  had  carried 
out  a  glorious  revolution  in  the  seventeenth  century.  Many, 
however,  are  not  aware  that  the  English  Revolution  was  pre 
ceded  by  a  German  Revolution,  —  or  rather,  by  two  successive 
movements  of  a  revolutionary  character  in  the  fourteenth  and 
sixteenth  centuries.  I  allude  to  the  Eidgenossen  rising  and 
the  so-called  Bauern  krieg,  or  "  War  of  the  Peasants,"  which 
was  involved  in  the  general  Reformation  movement.  As  typi 
cal  names,  I  may  mention  those  of  Stauffacher  and  Winkelried ; 
of  Konrad  Besserer ;  of  Hutten  and  Sickingen  ;  of  Luther,  Me- 
lancthon,  and  Zwingli ;  of  Wendel  Hipler,  Thomas  Miinzer, 
and  Florian  Geyer. 

A  word  on  the  early  German  constitution  will  not  be  out 
of  place  here.  In  its  earlier  days,  the  German  Empire  was 
undoubtedly  an  indivisible  Union  ;  not  a  mere  confederacy  of 
sovereign  states,  but  a  real  Union.  It  had  provincial  divis 
ions,  with  the  principle  of  autonomy  very  largely  and  irregu 
larly  developed  in  their  component  parts ;  but  the  principle  of 
imperial  unity  was  laid  down  clearly.  A  German  king  (or 
kaiser)  stood  at  the  head  of  a  number  of  governors,  or  counts 
of  the  shire,  who  were  removable  at  will.  He  himself  was 
not  a  ruler  by  the  law  of  succession,  not  a  monarch  by 
"  right  divine  "  ;  but  he  obtained  his  position  by  election,  and 
could  be  removed  by  judicial  trial.  In  accordance  with  the 
social  condition  of  the  time,  political  power  was  mainly  vested 
in  the  aristocracy,  though  a  substratum  of  ancient  republican 
liberties  was  yet  visible  here  and  there.  The  king,  or  kaiser, 
consequently  might  be  looked  upon  as  the  crowned  foreman  of 
the  aristocracy,  which  he,  on  his  part,  was  bound  by  the  Con 
stitution  to  hold  in  check. 


104  Luther  and  (German  'Freedom. 

The  arrangement  was  not  a  very  philosophical  one,  but  in  a 
rough  way  it  served,  for  a  while,  to  maintain  national  union, 
and  to  protect  a  few  popular  liberties.  The  German  king,  or 
kaiser,  being  a  ruler  by  contract,  had  to  swear  fidelity  to  the 
laws  of  the  land  before  entering  upon  his  office.  If  he  broke 
the  Constitution,  the  Estates  of  the  Realm  had  the  right  to  op 
pose  him  by  force  of  arms,  and  to  bring  him  before  a  court  of 
justice.  Even  the  penalty  of  death  could  be  inflicted  upon  him, 
but  only  after  he  had  been  deposed  from  his  office.  This  is 
stated  in  unmistakable  terms  in  the  ancient  codes  of  law,  the 
"  Sachsen spiegel "  and  the  "-  Schwabenspiegel."  Thus  in  the 
text  of  the  latter  we  find:  "Dem  Kunige  mac  nieman  an  den 
lip  gesprechen,  im  werde  dar  riche  e  wider teilet  mit  der  fiirsten 
urteile"  This  provision  is  the  more  remarkable,  because  in 
our  earliest  German  law  the  penalty  of  death  did  not  exist  for 
any  misdeed,  except  in  the  case  of  a  prince  or  duke  who  had 
committed  a  crime  against  the  rights  of  the  Commonwealth. 
That  was  the  compromise  which  the  Germans  made  between 
two  contending  principles  of  criminal  jurisprudence. 

The  German  King  or  Emperor  then  did  not  hold  his  sceptre 
"  by  the  grace  of  God."  If  I  may  make  a  comparison  which, 
like  all  comparisons,  limps  a  little,  I  should  say  that  Germany 
at  first  was  a  Commonwealth,  with  a  rudimentary  substratum 
of  republican  liberties,  with  aristocratic  powers  superposed,  and 
with  a  crowned  President  at  the  head,  —  the  latter  elected  for 
life,  but  deposable,  by  his  peers,  for  misdemeanors.  It  was, 
as  I  have  said,  a  somewhat  unphilosophical  Constitution  ;  but 
there  are,  even  now,  constitutions  glorying  in  a  labyrinth  of 
checks  and  counter -checks,  and  people  living  under  them 
who  are  so  accustomed  to  the  oddity  of  such  systems  that 
they  consider  them  perfect,  and  strive  to  extend  them  to 
other  lands. 

The  central  authority  of  the  German  Empire,  then,  was  the 
Konig,  or  Kaiser,  as  he  Was  called,  after  he  had  been  consecrated 
at  Rome.  The  centrifugal  force  was  found  in  the  "  princes,"  * 
or  provincial  governors,  who  constantly  aspired  to  sovereignty, 
and  endeavored  to  set  up  particular  dynasties,  though  this  idea 
was  at  first  utterly  repugnant  to  the  German  mind.  It  was 

*  Fiirsten;  literally,  "first,"  —  overseers,  prefects  :  not  hereditary  sovereigns. 


1870.]  ;  Jjuiher  and  German  Freedom.  105 

only  by  a  gradual  usurpation  of  power,  chiefly  accomplished 
by  acts  of  treachery  in  the  hour  of  common  danger,  that  the 
"  princes  "  succeeded  first  in  undermining,  and  then  virtually 
in  overthrowing,  the  central  authority.  Such  is  the  rise  and 
origin  of  all  the  ruling  houses  of  Germany.  Such  was  the 
significance  of  the  contest  between  the  Ghibellines  and  the 
Guelphs.  When  a  kaiser,  in  his  ambition,  went  to  gather 
laurels  in  sunny  southern  climes,  the  provincial  governors  or 
dukes  of  the  Empire  made  use  of  the  difficulties  into  which  he 
not  infrequently  fell  to  extort  from  him  the  grant  of  sovereign 
attributes>  which  afterwards  were  used  against  national  sover 
eignty  itself. 

The  Imperial  power  thus  fell  into  decay.  As  a  means  of 
resisting  the  process  of  disintegration,  some  of  the  German 
(monarch s  made  feeble  efforts  to  convert  the  elective  German 
Empire  into  an  hereditary  one.  Thus,  Henry  VI.,  in  the  twelfth 
century,  offered  to  the  various  dukes  a  right  of  succession  in  their 
own  government ;  in  exchange,  he  demanded  an  Imperial  right 
of  succession  for  his  own  offspring.  The  plan  failed.  Many 
dukes  said  that  they  already  practically  possessed  what  was 
offered  to  them.  The  Pope  was  against  it,  because  he  wanted 
to  keep  a  footing  in  Germany  through  the  priestly  element 
in  the  Electorates.  Lastly,  the  cities  looked  coldly  upon  the 
scheme,  because  the  republican  spirit  was  coming  up  strongly 
among  them.  The  struggle  thereafter  lay  between  the  cities, 
which  aimed  at  a  reconstruction  of  Germany  in  the  republican 
sense,  and  the  ducal  families,  that  strove  to  annihilate  at  once 
imperial  power  and  civic  freedom.  Here  I  come  to  the  first 
great  revolutionary  movement,  which  arose  out  of  a  League 
of  Towns,  and  is  known  under  the  name  of  the  Eidgenos- 
sen,  or  men  banded  together  by  oath  for  the  overthrow  of 
tyranny. 

As  early  as  the  beginning  of  the  thirteenth  century  we  find 
a  remarkable  agitation  going  on  in  many  German  towns.  Until 
then,  their  government  had  been  mainly  vested  in  patrician 
families,  who  were  generally  prevented  by  imperial  charter 
from  taking  part  in  trade  and  commerce,  being  held  equal  to 
the  Ritter  class,  or  nobility. '  This  state  of  things  kept  down 
the  handicraftsmen,  or  middle  and  working  classes,  in  the 


106  Luther  and  -German  Freedom.  [July? 

matter  of  political  privileges ;  but  it  allowed  them  to  obtain 
importance  through  industry,  and  in  time  they  demanded  a 
Reform.  The  Geschlechter,  or  patrician  families,  looked,  how 
ever,  with  such  disfavor  upon  that  plebeian  craving,  that  at 
Brunswick,  at  Magdeburg,  and  in  many  other  places,  they  re 
peatedly  had  the  masters  of  the  trade-guilds  decapitated  or 
burnt,  —  this  being  the  conservative  method  in  those  days  of 
supporting  respectability  against  popular  claims.  "  The  Re 
spectability  " —  die  Ehrbarkeit — was  in  fact  the  dist'nct  tech 
nical  term  for  the  noble  government  of  those,  patricians. 

In  the  long  run,  however,  the  patricians  had  to  submit  to 
see  the  suffrage  enlarged,  —  "  degraded/'  as  we  have  heard  it 
styled  by  the  Tories  in-  England  during  the  late  Reform  agita 
tion.  In  not  a  few  instances,  in  the  course  of  the  fourteenth 
century,  the  middle  and  plebeian  classes  of  Germany  obtained 
the  control  of  the  town  constitutions  by  regular  insurrection, 
and  established  a  government  which  gave  them  equality  before 
the  law.  It  would  be  interesting  to  have  the  history  of  all 
those  early  town  revolutions  fully  written.  But  perhaps  we 
must  wait  for  that  until  the  Germany  of  our  days  has  worked 
her  institutions  into  greater  sympathy  with  the  principle  which 
was  the  mainspring  of  those  early  aspirations. 

Generally  the  victory  of  the  plebeians  over  the  patricians 
had  the  effect  of  bringing  about  an  enlargement  of  a  town, 
and  the  extension  of  its  walls.  Owing  to  the  widening  of  the 
basis  of  suffrage,  more  men  became  interested  in  the  defence 
of  the  country,  and  they  took  part  in  it  heartily.  The  sturdy 
burghers  were  now  all  trained  in  the  use  of  arms.  Their 
guilds  were  arranged  with  a  view  to  military  defence,  and 
their  towns  were  built  with  a  strategic  purpose.  When  one 
looks  about  him  in  those  ancient  cities  there  rises  before  one's 
vision  the  picture  of  a  time  when  industrious  citizens,  hard 
pressed  by  rapacious  knights,  had  to  think  out  a  system,  not 
only  of  city  walls,  but,  in  case  of  the  worst,  also  of  street 
defence.  This  condemned  them  to  a  rather  confined  life, 
as  described  in  Goethe's  Faust,  when  the  pent-up  citizens 
issue  forth  "  from  the  cramping  narrowness  of  streets,"  out 
into  the  fragrant  country,  with  its  brooks  and  meadows  and 
mountain  air.  With  them  handicraft  and  agriculture  went 


1870.]  Luther  and  (Herman  ^Freedom.  107 

often  together.  Nor  was  the  sense  of  artistic  beauty  undevel 
oped  among  them.  I  need  not  speak  here  of  Nuremberg, 
Augsburg,  Regensburg,  Strasburg,  Cologne  ;  of  the  towering 
domes  reared  there,  and  the  encouragement  given  to  great 
masters  in  architecture  and  painting ;  of  the  combined  civic 
spirit  and  artistic  inclinations  visible  in  the  guild  and  trade 
halls,  as  well  as  in  private  dwellings.  Nor  need  I  describe 
how,  in  the  place  of  the  minnesanger,  or  chivalrous  poets  of 
love,  a  school  of  civic  meisters"nger  arose,  whose  lyre  was 
somewhat  more  harshly  tuned,  indeed,  but  who  yet  proved 
that  Poetry  had  a  hold  upon  their  hearts.  It  was  an  age  in 
which  the  pursuit  of  wealth  was  made  subservient  to  higher 
aims.  And  however  much  we  may  be  tempted  to  look  down 
upon  that  bygone  generation  of  men,  after  centuries  of  ad 
vancing  civilization  they  may  still  serve  us  in  some  ways  as  an 
example. 

Between  the  citizens  of  those  towns  and  the  ducal  families 
the  contest  had  at  last  to  be  fought  out.  The  latter  sapped 
national  union  at  its  basis.  The  former,  battling  for  popular 
freedom,  seemed  destined  to  restore  it  under  a  new  garb.  A 
general  League  of  Cities  presented  itself  as  a  practical  means 
for  obtaining  that  desirable  end. 

The  first  League,  or  Eidg-enossenschaft  as  it  called  itself,  of 
which  we  find  a  trace  in  ancient  records,  was  formed  between 
the  towns  of  Mayence,  Worms,  Spires,  Frankfort,  and  several 
others.  It  soon  spread  to  Cologne  and  Aachen  in  the  north, 
to  Colmar,  Basle,  and  Zurich  in  the  south,  which  were  then  all 
German  towns.  The  League  kept  up  a  strong  establishment 
of  civic  militia,  both  foot  and  horse,  and  a  considerable  array 
of  war-ships  on  the  Rhine  and  the  Moselle.  Gradually,  as  it 
grew,  it  enlarged  its  field  of  political  and  social  reconstruction. 
Whereas  they  occupied  themselves  formerly  only  with  town 
interests,  the  citizens  now  began  to  promote  the  emancipation 
of  the  peasantry  from  serfdom.  That  serfs  were  received  into 
the  freedom  of  the  towns  was  the  standing  complaint  of  the 
nobles, —  an  "  underground  railway,"  if  I  may  use  such  an 
anachronism,  being  even  then  established  in  some  cases  by 
venturesome  burghers  for  the  benefit  of  the  white  slave. . 

Even  in  religious  matters  the  free  towns  were  often  imbued 


108  Luther  and  German  Freedom. 

with  the  same  spirit  which  later  we  see  bursting  out  in  the 
Reformation.  On  this  point,  too,  much  misconception  pre 
vails.  The  general  notion  is,  that  "  you  cannot  expect  to 
meet  with  the  Reformation  spirit  in  the  epoch  of  the  Cru 
sades."  Yet  the  very  chronicles  of  the  Abbot  of  Ursperg — 
who  as  a  priest  is  surely  a  witness  whom  we  need  not  suspect  — 
declare  in  so  many  words  that,  under  Konrad  III.,  the  Crusad 
ers  were  laughed  at  everywhere,  as  they  marched  through  the 
different  towns  of  Germany,  nearly  the  whole  German  people 
(omnis  pene  populus  teutonicus)  believing  them  possessed  by 
an  unheard-of  folly  {quasi  inaudita  stultilia  delirantes.)  It 
was  at  that  time  also  that  the  fables  of  Reynard  the  Fox  and 
of  Isegrim  —  those  biting  satires  against  kingcraft,  aristocracy, 
and  priesthood  —  began  to  influence  powerfully  the  popular 
mind.  In  the  opinion  of  Gervinus  the  various  works  of  the 
"  Reynard  "  kind  paved  the  way  for  the  Reformation ;  and 
when  we  remember  that  many  of  them  proceeded  from  the 
pens  of  monks,  we  may  conclude  that  the  Romish  Church  had 
not  a  few  clever  enemies  within  its  own  precincts.  Again,  the 
violent  anti-Popish  poems  of  Walther  von  der  Vogelweide,  and 
the  similar  passages  in  the  Freidank,  all  show  that  the  Reforma 
tion  tendency  was  pretty  well  spread  throughout  all  classes  of 
Germany  fully  three  hundred  years  before  Hutten  and  Luther. 
Had  there  been  an  emperor  willing  to  use  these  strong  anti 
clerical  forces,  he  might  have  achieved  a  success  for  the  na 
tion  and  for  himself;  but  even  free-thinking  emperors,  like 
Frederick  II.,  were  afraid  of  wounding  the  priestly  element 
too  deeply.  In  every  respect,  therefore,  the  towns  remained 
the  sole  representatives  of  the  new  spirit. 

Now  when  the  popular  party,  by  a  series  of  class  insurrec 
tions,  had  gained  the  upper  hand  in  a  great  number  of  cities, 
the  moment  was  at  hand  for  a  final  uprising  of  the1  United 
Eidgenossen  along  the  Rhine  and  the  Danube,  as  well  as  in 
the  Alpine  districts,  which  to-day  are  called  Switzerland,  and 
which  alone  have  preserved  the  Eidgenossen  name,  because  to 
them  the  fortune  of  battle  was  more  favorable  than  to  other 
parts  of  the  fatherland.  The  Eidgenossen^  however,  did  not 
form  the  only  republican  force  then  in  existence  in  Germany. 
Whilst  their  influence  spread  in  the  west  and  the  south,  the 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  109 

Hansa,  another  league  of  free  cities,  grew  up  in  the  north. 
Its  tendency,  however  ^  was  of  a  less  pronounced  democratic 
character.  The  great  traders  —  the  Kaufherren —  held  sway 
in  it ;  and  their  government'  partook  largely  of  the  patrician 
character.  Still,  in  its  basis,  the  Hansa  was  republican,  and 
its  influence  had  a  wide  range.  In  its  best  period  that  League 
extended  along  the  shores  of  the  German  Ocean  and  the 
Baltic  ;  the  easternmost  associate  of  the  Hanseates  being  Nov 
gorod,  then  a  free  Russian  town,  governed  by  the  Liibeck  law. 
The  Hansa,  in  those  days,  constituted  the  great  naval  power  of 
the  north,  and  German  admirals  swept  the  sea  with  their  squad 
rons.  They  fought  the  Scandinavian  powers,  and  occasion 
ally  even  disposed  of  a  crown.  It  was  not,  however,  exclusively 
a  maritime  league.  It  included  inland  towns  even  in  Central 
Qermany  and  along  the  Rhine  ;  for  the  highway  of  trade  from 
India  to  the  north  lay,  in  those  days,  through  Germany,  and 
this  trade  formed  a  great  link  between  the  industrial  south  and 
the  trading  north. 

The  Eidgenossen  and  the  Hansa  might  have  wrought  a 
great  transformation  of  Germany.  To  that  end  their  efforts 
indeed  tended  ;  but  whilst  the  Eidgenossen  of  Upper  Aleman- 
nia  were  triumphant  in  the  ever-memorable  battles  of  Mor- 
garten,  Sempach,  and  Nafels,  the  fortune  of  war,  after  some 
successes,  turned  against  the  other  members  of  that  League. 
It  was  a  nobleman,  made  a  traitor  by  a  bribe  of  one  thousand 
florins,  who  brought  about  the  loss  of  the  battle  of  Doffingen. 
That  battle  proved  a  turning-point  in  German  history.  It  was, 
if  I  may  say  so,  the  Hastings  of  mediaeval  German  Democracy. 

"  Had  the  citizens,"  says  Wirth,  "  obtained  the  victory  also 
there,  the  Swiss  Constitution  would  have  been  spread  over  all 
Southern  Germany ;  and  later,  it  would  equally  have  extended 
over  all  the  lower  countries  through  the  action  of  the  Han- 
seatic  League.  As  it  was,  civic  freedom  fell ;  the  last  obsta 
cles  to  unlimited  princely  sovereignty  were  removed ;  and, 
together  with  Liberty,  Union  vanished.  This  was  a  terrible 
national  misfortune."  Again  he  says :  "  The  defeat  of  the 
citizen  warriors  at  Dcffingen  was  decisive  in  this  sense,  that 
Germany  now  entered  upon  the  road  of  becoming-  a  medley  of 
monarchies  claiming  separate  existence Our  wretched 


110  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  [Juty? 

condition  at  home,  the  loss  of  our  power  abroad,  sprang  from 
this  source.  The  genius  of  the  Fatherland  covered  its  face  in 
sorrow  when  the  body  of  Konrad  Besserer  (the  heroic  burgo 
master  of  Ulm)  was  enshrouded  in  the  banner  of  freedom. 
The  Republican  movement  succeeded  only  in  what  now  is  Swit 
zerland.  Separation  from  Germany  the  Swiss  did  not,  at  first, 
intend,  and  they  remained  true  to  the  national  bond  as  long  as 
possible.  Their  final  withdrawal  from  all  connection  with  the 
General  Empire  was  not  settled  until  1648. 

I  now  come  to  the  second  great  revolutionary  movement  of 
Germany,  which  is  known  as  the  "  Reformation "  and  the 
"  War  of  the  Peasants." 

Some,  as  I  have  said,  take  an  exclusively  theological  view 
of  the  Reformation ;  but  there  is  a  larger  and  more  truthful 
view,  according  to  which  the  Reformation  movement  was 
originally  a  very  complex  one,  proceeding  from  tendencies  in 
both  Church  and  State  towards  religious,  political,  and  social 
progress,  —  the  two  latter  elements  even  predominating  at 
one  time  under  cover  of  the  former.  In  the  end,  the  polit 
ical  and  social  Reformation,  which  was  contemporary  with, 
and  at  first  largely  involved  in,  the  movement  of  religious 
emancipation,  miscarried,  and  the  Church  Reformation  alone 
triumphed.  It  is  nevertheless  true  that  the  two  or  three 
movements,  as  will  presently  be  shown,  cannot  be  separated 
from  each  other  with  justice.  The  very  writings  of  Luther 
are  full  of  this  threefold  character  of  the  Reformation.  No 
wonder  that,  under  the  late  King  of  Prussia,  an  extract  from 
Luther's  works  was  actually  seized  by  the  police  authorities, 
and  its  circulation  prohibited. 

There  may  be  distinguished,  in  the  Reformation,  a  re 
ligious,  a  humanistic,  a  national  or  patriotic,  and  a  demo 
cratic  element.  If  we  bear  this  in  mind,  the  Luther  monu 
ment  at  Worms,  which  was  uncovered  in  1868  in  the  presence 
of  the  King  of  Prussia,  will  be  seen  to  give  but  a  one-sided  and 
imperfect  view  of  that  troublous  but  hopeful  period  of  German 
history.  Planned  by  Rietschel,  the  masterly  delineator  of  the 
Goethe  and  Schiller  group  at  Weimar,  the  monument  at  Worms 
is  a  vast  and  powerful  conception.  Yet,  with  all  its  variety  of 
figures,  —  including,  as  it  does,  the  statues  of  Luther's  pre- 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  Ill 

decessors,  Wycliffe,  Waldo,  Savonarola,  and  Huss,  —  it  lacks 
completeness.  We  see  Frederick,  called  the  Wise,  Elector  of 
Saxony,  and  Philip,  called  the  Generous,  Landgrave  of  Hesse, 
standing  in  front ;  Melancthon  and  Reuchlin  behind.  But  who 
that  knows  the  history  of  the  Reformation  is  not  aware  that 
one  of  those  princes  acted  the  part  of  a  trimmer,  whilst  the 
other  proved  a  deadly  enemy  to  the  popular  claims  which  were 
then  brought  forward  on  the  strength  of  what  the  peasantry 
called  the  "  true  reading  of  the  Gospel "  ?  And  if  Melancthon 
and  Reuchlin  have  their  proper  place  in  the  Reformation  group 
of  the  monument  at  Worms,  why  are  the  great  humanists, 
Celtes,  Hesse,  Bebel,  Pirkheimer,  and  even  Erasmus,  alto 
gether  left  out  ?  They  might,  at  least,  have  been  indicated 
by  medallions,  as  Ulrich  von  Hutten  and  Franz  von  Sickingen 
were  on  the  upper  bronze  cube;  the  political  aspect  .of  the 
Reformation  having,  by  this  latter  device,  been  suggested  in 
some  slight  degree.  But  then,  if  Hutten  and  Sickingen  found 
a  place,  however  small  in  the  design,  why  was  none  given  to 
those  prominent  leaders  on  the  popular  side,  who,  fired  with  a 
vision  of  Puritan  and  independent  sentiment,  sturdily  did  bat 
tle,  though  with  ill-success,  for  the  principles  of  a  combined 
religious,  political,  and  social  reformation  ? 

Some  might  think  that  their  misfortune  shuts  them  out  from 
commemoration.  If  that  were  the  case,  neither  the  mail-clad 
man  of  letters  who  died  as  an  exile  at  Ufnau,  nor  that  adven 
turous  knight  who'saw,  wounded  and  dying,  the  enemy  carry 
by  storm  his  castle,  could  have  been  represented  on  the  monu 
ment  ;  nor  could  a  place  have  been  found  for  the  "  sorrowing 
Magdeburg,"  —  the  melancholy  symbol  of  an  heroic  but  de 
feated  town.  Nor  is  the  plea  that  Luther  never  had  any 
thing  to  do  with  the  popular  movement  at  large  valid.  In 
the  beginning,  on  the  contrary,  he  readily  recognized  the  jus 
tice  of  some  of  its  demands ;  and  though  afterwards  he  joined 
the  other  side,  he  did  not  cease  to  denounce  what,  in  his  blunt 
language,  he  openly  called  the  "  mad  tyranny  "  of  princes  and 
lords. 

The  original  aims  of  the  Reformation  were  manifold.  A 
national  Church  was  to  be  established.  Landed  property, 
held  in  mortmain  to  an  incredible  extent,  was  to  be  recon- 


112  Luther  and  German  Freedom. 

verted  into  freehold.  The  fetters  were  to  be  struck  from  an 
enslaved  agricultural  class.  The  political  representation  of  the 
people  was  to  be  made  a  reality,  the  German  Parliament,  or 
Reichstag,  being  then  a  mere  house  of  princes  and  lords,  secular 
and  spiritual,  with  a  sprinkling  of  the  representatives  of  cities. 
Lastly,  the  most  energetic  section  of  the  reformers  strove  for 
the  abolition  of  all  petty  dynastic  powers,  some  of  which  were 
found  under  the  Imperial,  some  under  the  Republican  flag. 
Many  learned  men,  vast  numbers  of  the  middle  class,  the  mass 
of  the  peasantry,  many  priests,  and  even  the 'better  section 
of  the  aristocracy  were  in  the  movement,  as  moderate  re 
formers,  or  as  levelling  Imperialists,  or  as  adherents  of  the 
principle  of  a  popular  Commonwealth.  Hutten,  in  spite  of  his 
trenchant  style,  represented  among  the  upper  classes  —  whom 
he  wished  to  lead  on  to  a  national  policy  in  spite  of  them 
selves  —  the  type  of  a  moderate  reformer  in  Church  and  State. 
His  friend  Sickingen  had  the  material  in  him  for  an  aristocratic 
Lord  Protector  of  Germany.  Probably  he  had  something  like 
the  ancient  Swedish  and  Polish  Constitution  in  view.  Some 
of  the  chiefs  of  the  peasantry,  such  as  Hipler  and  Florian 
Geyer,  who  had  formerly  occupied  higher  stations  in  life, 
were  Democratic  statesmen  of  considerable  ability.  Thomas 
Miinzer,  who  in  religion  preached,  under  mystic  forms,  a  sort 
of  Deism,  was  in  political  creed  a  revolutionary  Socialist.  If 
Martin  Luther,  the  ex-monk,  that  gigantic  wrestler,  had  joined 
the  political  reformers,  he  would  have  given  a  still  grander 
impress  to  our  history,  and  the  double  or  triple  aim  of  the 
national  cause  would,  probably,  have  been  attained. 

All  Germany,  in  fact,  took  part  in  that  movement.  It  was 
not  a  sectional  one,  —  not  one  opposing  south  to  north,  but  the 
different  parties  were  to  be  found  everywhere.  Countries  to 
day  the  most  Catholic  were  then  full  of  the  Evangelical  and 
Reformation  spirit.  There  was  Reformation  even  in  the  Tyrol, 
which  fire  and  the  sword  were  required  to  put  down.  In  such  an 
age  the  Imperial  interest  had  a  great  opportunity.  Charles  V. 
might  have  done  what  Henry  VIII.  of  England  did,  and  have 
thereby  stopped  the  process  of  national  disintegration.  But  that 
brooding  monarch,  who  was  only  half  German  (he  could  not 
even  converse  properly  in  German,  while  the  Spaniards  said  he 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  113 

spoke  their  own  tongue  imperfectly),  and  whose  mind  was  cast 
in  the  narrow  mould  of  bigotry,  missed  one  of  the  greatest  of 
historical  opportunities.  In  vain  Hutten  admonished,  prayed, 
entreated  him  to  come  forward  as  the  champion  of  the  Refor 
mation.  There  is  a  u  Wail "  (Klagelied)  by  Hutten  extant, 
touching  in  its  earnest  simplicity,  in  which  he  says  that  he 
could  willingly  die  in  poverty  and  misery,  if  the  king  (Charles 
Y.)  would  let  the  Imperial  eagles  fly  against  Popery,  and  place 
himself  truly  at  the  head  of  all  "  free  Germans."  To  the 
"  proud  nobility,"  to  the  "  valiant  towns,"  Hutten  addresses 
his  admonition,  that  they  "  should  take  pity  on  the  Fatherland  >: 
and  "  battle  for  liberty."  It  is  impossible,  I  fear,  to  render  in 
English  the  quaint  strength  of  the  original  text.  It  is  enough 
to  say  that  the  patriotic  knight,  who  was  not  wanting  in  pride, 
prostrated  himself  before  the  monarch,  in  order  to  induce  him 
to  adopt  a  large  Reformation  policy,  but  without  avail.  Charles 
remained  deaf  to  these  urgent  appeals. 

There  was  a  general  deafness  then  among  rulers.  Luther, 
who  understood  the  political  signs  better,  foresaw  the  coming 
of  the  storm  several  years  before  its  outbreak.  Already  in 
1522  he  predicted  a  general  revolt  in  German  lands,  —  "  eine 
grosse  Empdrung  in  deutschen  Landen"  Personally,  with  all 
his  stormy  energy,  and  with  all  the  prejudices  that  clove  to  him 
from  his  monkish  training,  he  was  of  a  kindly  disposition,  well 
disposed  to  the  people's  welfare,  no  flatterer  of  princes,  honest 
and  outspoken,  and  of  a  genial  temper.  He  clearly  saw  and 
denounced  the  tyranny  with  which  the  nation  was  burdened, 
through  the  misrule  of  that  superior  aristocracy  which  had 
gradually  risen  into  a  position  almost  sovereign.  He  said  in  his 
unparliamentary  way,  that  "  princes  had  mostly  been  the  great 
est  blockheads  and  the  wickedest  rascals"  !  He  called  them 
"  God's  jailers  and  hangmen,"  who  "  had  hearts  of  stone  and 
heads  of  brass." 

So  late  as  a  year  before  the  outbreak  of  the  great  Bauern 
krieg  Luther  thus  expressed  himself:  "  The  laboring  man,  tried 
beyond  all  endurance,  overwhelmed  with  intolerable  burdens, 
will  not,  and  cannot,  any  longer  tamely  submit,  and  he  has 
doubtless  good  reasons  for  striking  with  the  flail  and  the  club, 
as  John  Pitchfork  threatens  to  do /  am  delighted  so 

YOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  8 


114  Luther  and  German  Freedom. 

far  to  see  the  tyrants  trembling"  In  the  same  "  Sincere  Ex 
hortation,"  whilst  warning  against  the  spirit  of  rebellion,  he 
admonished  the  Imperial  government  and  the  nobles  to  put 
their  hand  to  the  work  of  doing  away  with  grievances,  as 
"  that  which  is  done  by  the  regular  powers  cannot  be  looked 
upon  as  sedition!" 

I  think  in  this,  as  in  other  writings  of  the  same  time,  a  state 
of  doubt  may  be  traced  in  Luther's  mind.  He  saw  the  great 
ness  of  the  coming  movement ;  he  had  sympathy  with  it,  yet 
he  could  not  place  himself  decidedly  on  the  one  side  or  the 
other.  Still  he  spoke  out  strongly  against  the  government 
and  against  privileged  castes.  Even  when  the  rising  of  the 
peasants  and  their  allies  in  the  towns  had  actually  begun 
he  wrote :  "  For  such  insurrection  we  have  to  thank  you,  ye 
princes  and  lords,  ye  purblind  bishops  and  mad  monks  !  .  .  .  . 
You  fleece  and  skin  the  people  until  they  can  bear  it  no 
longer.  But  the  sword  is  now  at  your  throat !  .  .  .  .  You  still 
think  you  are  in  the  saddle  ;  you  will  be  lifted  from  it !  .... 
If  these  peasants  cannot  do  it,  others  will.  And  though  ye 
beat  them  all,  they  yet  are  unbeaten.  God  will  raise  up 
new  ones,  for  he  means  to  destroy  you,  and  destroy  you  he 
will !  It  is  not  peasants  that  rise  against  you,  my  dear  lords, 
it  is  God  himself  who  will  punish  your  tyrannic  madness !  r' 
He  then  continued :  "  See  you  not  that  if  I  desired  revenge, 
I  should  only  have  to  stand  silently  by,  laughing  in  my  sleeve, 
and  look  on  at  the  peasants  carrying  out  their  work  ?  I  might 
even,  by  making  common  cause  with  them,  make  still  deeper 
your  wounds.  God  ever  preserve  me,  as  now,  from  such 

thoughts Dear  lords,  in  the  name  of  God !  retire  before 

the  anger  of  God,  which  you  see  let  loose  against  you !  .  .  .  . 
Cease  your  exactions,  cease  your  cruel  despotism  !  .  .  .  .  Use 
gentle  means,  lest  the  spark  now  lighted,  extending  itself 
gradually  all  round,  and  catching  at  point  after  point,  should 
produce  throughout  Germany  a  conflagration  which  nothing 
can  extinguish.  You  will  lose  nothing  by  gentleness,  and  even 
though  you  were  to  lose  some  trifling  matter,  the  blessings  of 
peace  would  make  it  up  to  you  a  hundred-fold.  Resort  to  war, 
and  you  may  be  all  of  you  swallowed  up,  body  and  goods. 
The  peasantry  have  drawn  up  Twelve  Articles,  some  of  which 


1870.]  iMther  and  German  Freedom*  115 

contain  demands  so  obviously  just,  that  the  mere  cir 
cumstance  of  their  requiring  to  be  brought  forward  dishon 
ors  you  before  God  and  man.  I  myself  have  many  articles, 
even  still  more  important  ones,  perhaps,  that  I  might  pre 
sent  against  you  in  reference  to  the  government  of  Ger 
many,  such  as  I  drew  up  in  my  book  addressed  to  the 
German  nobility.  But  my  words  passed  unheeded  by  you 
like  the  wind." 

On  the  different  grievances  of  the  insurgent  population  Lu 
ther  said  in  the  same  "  Exhortation  to  Peace,"  addressed  to 
princes  and  lords :  "  As  to  the  first  article,  you  cannot  refuse 
them  the  free  election  of  their  pastors.  They  desire  that  these 
pastors  should  preach  the  gospel  to  them.  Now  authority  must 
not  and  cannot  interpose  any  prohibition  of  this,  seeing  that  of 
right  it  should  permit  each  man  to  teach  and  to  believe  that 
which  to  him  seems  good  and  fitting,  whether  it  be  gospel  or 
whether  it  be  false.  All  that  authority  is  entitled  to  prohibit 
is  the  preaching  up  of  disorder  and  revolt.  Again,  the  articles 
which  have  reference  to  the  material  condition  and  welfare  of 
the  peasants  —  to  the  fines,  inheritance,  imposts,  the  exaction 
of  harsh  feudal  services,  and  so  forth  —  are  equally  founded  in 
justice  ;  for  government  was  not  instituted  for  its  own  ends, 
nor  to  make  use  of  the  persons  subject  to  it  for  the  accomplish 
ment  of  its  own  caprices  and  evil  passions,  but  for  the  interests 
and  the  advantage  of  the  people.  Now  the  people  have  be 
come  fully  impressed  with  this  fact,  and  will  no  longer  toler 
ate  your  shameful  extortions.  Of  what  benefit  were  it  to  a 
peasant  that  his  field  should  produce  as  many  florins  as  it  does 
grains  of  corn,  if  his  aristocratic  master  may  despoil  him  of 
the  produce,  and  lavish,  like  dirt,  the  money  he  has  thus 
derived  from  his  vassal,  in  fine  clothes,  fine  castles,  fine  eating 
and  drinking  ?  " 

It  will  be  seen  from  these  few  quotations,  which  might  be 
multiplied  a  hundred-fold,  that  Luther  knew  what  were  the 
sufferings .  of  the  down- trodden  people ;  that  he  wished  for  a 
reformation  of  the  government  of  Germany  as  well  as  for  that 
ft£  the  Church;  that  he  considered  the  rising  against  lordly 
and  princely  misrule  a  formidable  one,  which,  if  he  only 
"  stood  silently  by,  laughing  in  his  sleeve,  and  looking  on  at 


116  iMther  and  German  Freedom.  [July, 

the  peasants  carrying  out  their  work,"  might  have  become 
uncontrollable. 

What,  then,  would  have  occurred,  had  he  thrown  his  influ 
ence  persistently  on  the  people's  side  ?  At  one  time  he  had 
the  nation  at  his  command.  His  power  of  speech  which  wells 
up  in  the  slightest  talk,  such  as  has  been  preserved  in  the 
Tischreden,  his  combative  energy,  and  his  force  of  persuasion 
were  extraordinary.  Unfortunately,  when  the  contest  grew 
hottest,  he  went  over  to  the  side  of  the  governing  classes,  and 
became  the  adversary  of  the  political  and  social  parts  of  the 
Reformation  programme.  He  stood  aghast  at  the  loudness 
and  many-tongued  confusion  of  the  popular  aspirations.  The 
theologian  came  up  too  strongly  in  him.  A  parallel  to  this 
conduct  may  be  found  in  the  fact  that  Luther,  after  having 
been,  as  he  said  himself,  a  "  rabid  Papist,"  ein  rasender,  un- 
sinniger  Papist,  ersoffen  in  des  Pabstes  Lehre,  had  once  passed 
through  a  very  free-thinking  stage  ;  to  such  an  extent,  indeed, 
that  he  stopped  himself  by  saying  that  he  must  "  strangle 
his  reason"  in  order  to  return  to  his  former  belief!  In  this 
manner,  certainly,  he  strangled  his  political  reason.  He  now 
attacked  every  Reformation  idea  not  directly  connected  with 
Church  affairs.  He  called  all  armed  resistance  to  galling 
oppression  the  "  work  of  Satan."  He  wrote  denunciations 
against  the  more  advanced  men  ;  for  instance,  his  "  Letter  to 
the  Princes  in  Saxony  against  the  Revolutionary  Spirit."  He 
denounced  bitterly  all  the  Rumpelgeister  and  Schwarmer. 
He  put  his  hope  in  some  prince  that  would  carry  through  his 
Church  cause.  He  preached  the  doctrine  that  all  government 
was  by  "  right  divine,"  which  was  until  then  a  doctrine  not 
to  be  found  in  Germany,  where  all  princely  power  was  held  to 
rest  on  a  covenant  with  the  people.  The  new  doctrine,  it  need 
not  be  said,  was  very  acceptable  to  those  princes  who,  under 
the  mask  of  religion,  wished  to  establish  separate  sovereign 
ties,  independent  of  Pope  and  Kaiser  alike. 

Luther  now  wrote  :  "  Christians  must  suffer  torture  !  They 
must  suffer  wrong ;  suffer ,  suffer !  They  must  bear  the  cross t 
the  cross !  That  is  a  Christian's  right ;  he  has  no  other  !  " 
He  spoke  of  Christians  as  flocks  of  sheep,  not  to  bo  tended, 
but  to  be  slaughtered,  one  after  the  other.  "  Nicht  Weideschaf 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  117 

—  Schlachtschaf !  nur  so  kin;  eins  nach  dem  anderen!"  That 
was  not  the  spirit  of  the  humanists,  or  liberals,  much  less  of 
the  ardent  Democratic  reformers  of  his  time.  He  even  de 
clared  himself  for  the  continuance  of  serfdom !  He  said  there 
must  be  serfs  because  Abraham  had  had  serfs!  Such  doc 
trines  jarred  on  the  popular  ear ;  and  the  great  champion  of 
the  Church  Reformation  was  sometimes  called  a  lackey  of 
monarchs,  —  wrongly,  certainly,  for  of  the  lackey  spirit  there 
was  nothing  in  that  unbending  man. 

But  of  fierceness  thereNwas  enough  in  him  when  once  he 
went  astray,  and  he,  the  poor  miner's  son,  went  cruelly  astray 
in  that  Peasant  affair.  This  was  the  advice  he  gave  as  to  the 
manner  in  which  the  insurgents  should  be  dealt  with :  "  Let 
them  be  destroyed,  strangled,  stabbed,  secretly  or  publicly,  by 
whosoever  is  able  to  do  it,  even  as  a  mad  dog  is  killed  right 
away.  I  call  upon  you,  dear  lords,  come  hither  to  the  rescue  ! 
strike !  Ay,  strike,  strangle,  all  ye  that  can  lift  a  hand !  If 
thou  losest  thy  life  in  the  affray,  a  blessing  upon  thee, — 
thou  art  saved  thereby  !  A  more  blissful  death  thou  canst  not 
have  !  .  .  .  .  Let  the  guns  be  turned  upon  them ;  or  else  their 
wickedness  will  grow  a  thousand-fold  greater ! >: 

The  political  and  social  insurrection  against  which  Luther 
raised  such  a  cry  was  not  a  mere  servile  revolt,  but  an  attempt 
at  changing  radically  the  German  Constitution.  It  was  pre 
ceded  by  conspiracies,  known  as  the  Bundschuh  and  the  Arme 
Kqnrad.  The  "  bundschuh,"  or  laced  shoe,  was  worn  by  the 
people ;  high  boots,  by  the  nobles.  "  Poor  Konrad  "  the  peasants 
were  nicknamed  from  the  frequency  of  that  name  among  them. 
The  first  demands  of  the  peasants,  embodied  in  their  Twelve  Arti 
cles,  were  moderate  enough.  They  asked  for  a  reformation  of 
the  Church,  a  diminution  of  tithes,  the  abolition  of  serfdom,  of 
the  oppressive  game  laws,  etc.  Soon  they  went  farther.  In 
some  of  the  secret  associations  the  password  by  which  the 
members  knew  each  other  was  this.  One  asked,  "  What  do  you 
think  in  the  main  ?  "  The  other  had  to  answer,  "  Priests, 
nobles,  and  princes  are  the  people's  bane  ! >!  I  may  observe 
here  that  the  German  character,  as  a  rule,  lends  itself  with 
great  difficulty  to  the  work  of  conspirators ;  but  in  times  of 
great  public  danger  secret  associations  have  sprung  up  even 


118  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  [July, 

among  the  Germans,  from  the  time  of  Hermann,  the  Cherus- 
can  leader,  who  threw  off  the  Roman  yoke,  down  to  the 
Tugendbund,  which  was  formed  during  the  intolerable  Napo 
leonic  domination,  and  to  the  many  other  secret  societies  which 
at  the  beginning  of  this  century  endeavored  to  unite  free-minded 
men  in  opposition  to  the.  reactionary  profligacy  of  the  German 
princes. 

There  were  three  political  camps  in  Luther's  time:  the 
Catholic  or  reactionary  one ;  the  camp  of  moderate  Liber 
alism  ;  and  that  of  Democracy.  In  the  peasants'  insurrec 
tion  two  currents  can  be  distinguished,  —  one  directed  mainly 
to  the  suppression  of  harsh  feudal  customs  ;  the  other  to  the 
formation  of  a  Republican  Commonwealth.  The  papers  of 
the  "  Constitutional  Committee,"  which  the  insurgents  estab 
lished  at  Heilbronn,  are  still  extant ;  and  they  contain  undeni 
able  proofs  of  the  sagacity  of  some  of  the  leaders.  When  a 
popular  rising  is  defeated  a  mass  of  calumny  is  often  the  only 
monument  which  the  victors  raise  over  the  grave  of  the  van 
quished  ;  and  it  is  the  merit  of  Zimmermann  to  have  been  the 
first  to  trace  from  those  original  documents  the  true  character 
of  the  insurrection.  He  chose  the  motto  of  his  work  from  the 
Antigone  of  Sophocles,  —  "  I  dare  to  raise  a  tomb  to  my  dearly 
beloved  brother !  " 

The  rising  extended  over  all  Southern  Germany,  from  the 
Rhine  into  Austria ;  it  reached  up  also  towards  the  north 
through  the  insurrection  in  Thuringia.  In  the  latter  country 
were  the  head-quarters  of  Miinzer,  the  revolutionary  preacher, 
—  a  Savonarola  and  Rienzi  combined.  The  main  army  of  the 
insurgents  in  the  south  was  not  badly  equipped.  It  possessed 
ordnance  and  three  thousand  guns,  —  a  good  armament  for 
that  time.  But  the  Thuringian  insurgents  were  ill  assorted 
and  badly  armed.  The  great  defect  of  the  movement  was 'its 
want  of  a  central  direction,  a  scattered  agricultural  population 
being  always  difficult  to  organize  for  action.  It  is  true,  as  the 
peasantry  rose,  they  were  joined  by  a  number  of  towns,  by  noble 
men,  even  by  several  princes,  who  either  willingly  entered  the 
League,  or  were  forced  into  it ;  but  the  presence  of  worthless 
marauders  and  the  absence  of  good  military  leaders  made 
themselves  sorely  felt.  Gotz  von  Berlichingen,  with  the  Iron 


Luther  and  Cf-erman  Freedom.  119 

1870.] 

M,  whom  the  insurgents  pressed  into 

Hand,  the  Suabian  Kmfe^  ..     The  aid  which  the  peasants 

their  service,  played  them  faib.         «'*  neutralized  through  the 
received  from  the  towns  was  genera^  ^ired  within  city 

firm  hold  which  the  patricians  had  reaci^  ;dable  that 

walls.     Nevertheless,  the  insurrection  was  so  foiw.          -n]jy 
the  princes,  before   meeting  it  by   force   of  arms,  gent^,. 
thought  it  necessary  to  employ  the  most  disgraceful  perjury,  in 
order  to  lull  the  people  into  a  sense  of  security,  and  then  beat 
them  in  detail.' 

More  than  a  thousand  feudal  "robbers'"  nests  —  for  such 
they  actually  were,  according  to  contemporary  testimony — were 
destroyed  during  that  upheaval ;  and  a  great  number  of  them 
were  never  rebuilt.  Many  of  the  aristocratic  dwellers  in  those 
fortified  castles  were  alike  rebellious  to  Imperial  authority,  and 
hostile  to  the  prosperity  of  the  towns,  while  towards  the  tillers  of 
the  soil  they  frequently  acted  like  fiends  in  human  shape.  Ru 
dolf  von  Habsburg,  the  German  emperor,  had  those  noble  high 
waymen  hanged  by  dozens.  The  townspeople,  when  they  could 
get  hold  of  them,  dealt  with  them  as  common  criminals  ;  and 
after  the  towns  came  the  peasants.  When  now  we  see  in  Ger 
many  so  many  ruined  castles  and  halls  we  should  remember 
that  not  a  few  of  them  are  records  of  the  maddened  feelings  of 
a  people  driven  by  oppression  to  despair.  However,  after  many 
sanguinary  contests  the  Peasant  Revolution  failed,  as,  a  little 
more  than  a  century  before,  the  Republican  rising  of  the  towns 
had  been  defeated.  Princely  orgies  marked  the  downfall  of 
the  popular  cause.  Germany  was  covered  with  scaffolds  and 
gibbets ;  but  revenge  was  to  come  through  the  Thirty  Years' 
War,  which  gave  a  tremendous  shock  to  the  Empire,  and  pre 
pared  the  way  for  its  later  disruption. 

I  have  shown  that  a  great  political  and  social  turmoil  oc 
curred  in  Luther's  time,  in  the  very  midst  of  the  religious  Refor 
mation  movement,  and  that  the  leaders  who  headed  the  masses 
mostly  took  their  cue  from  Bible  texts,  interpreted  or  twisted 
into  a  sense  favorable  to  the  people's  cause.  Luther  himself 
at  first  carried  on  his  agitation  almost  in  co-operation  with  the 
political  movement,  but  when  a  certain  point  was  reached  a 
divergence  occurred.  He  would  no  longer  hear  of  what  he 
called  a  "  carnal  reading  of  the  Gospel."  After  the  defeat  of 


120  Luther  and  German  Freedom. 

[July, 

the  rising  of  1525  the  Reformation  bec*»- 
ligious  one.  It  remained  political  "-'  -me  exclusively  a  re- 
princes  who  went  over  to  it  »-  '  -1A7 in  this  sense> that  tnose 
breaking  up  the  EmPlV'  -ideavored  to  use  it  as  a  means  of 
the  cloak  of  *"'  ^e  for  their  individual  advantage.  Under 
separate  ^eiigion  they  exerted  themselves  to  establish 

f^-  ^  sovereignties,  —  Luther's  doctrine,  that  all  existing 
ojvernment  is  by  "  right  divine,"  being  considered  by  them  as 
equivalent  to  a  doctrine  of  monarchical  irresponsibility.  In 
the  peculiar  position  of  Germany  this  was  a  tenet  which  be 
came  destructive  of  national  cohesion.  Yet  the  majority  of 
the  people,  filled  with  deep  hatred  of  priestly  corruption,  re 
mained  faithful  to  the  Reformation  cause,  even  in  this  form, 
though  it  now  carried  with  it  the  seeds  of  political  dissolution. 
For  a  short  time  the  direction  of  the  Reformation  movement 
remained  still  in  the  hands  of  a  Towns'  League,  then  it  passed 
entirely  under  the  control  of  the  princes,  and  the  latter  gener 
ally  exhibited  their  selfishness  and  treachery  alike  against  the 
people  and  amongst  themselves. 

The  Germans  have  often  prided  themselves  on  having  con 
quered  the  right  of  free  thought,  even  though  it  was  at  the  cost 
of  their  existence  as  a  nation.  The  French  historian  Michelet, 
who  confesses  that  his  own  sympathies  are  not  with  the  relig 
ious  revolution  of  the  sixteenth  century,  yet  says  of  the  great 
German  Reformer :  "  Luther  was,  in  point  of  fact,  the  re 
storer  of  spiritual  liberty  to  the  ages  which  followed  his  era. 
He  denied  it  theoretically,  indeed,  but  he.  established  it  in 
practice  ;  if  he  did  not  absolutely  create,  he  at  least  coura 
geously  signed  his  name  to  the  great  revolution  which  legalized 
in  Europe  the  righ£  of  free  examination.  To  him  it  is  in  great 
measure  owing  that  we,  of  the  present  day,  exercise  in  its  plen 
itude  that  first  great  right  of  the  human  understanding,  to 
which  all  the  rest  are  attached,  and  without  which  all  the  rest 
are  naught.  We  cannot  think,  speak,  write,  read,  for  a  single 
moment,  without  gratefully  recalling  to  mind  this  enormous 
benefit  of  intellectual  enfranchisement.  The  very  lines  I  here 
trace,  to  whom  do  I  owe  it  that  I  am  able  to  send  them  forth, 
if  not  to  the  Liberator  of  modern  thought  ?  " 

But  the  sacrifice  the  German  nation  made  in  this  cause 
ought  not  to  be  forgotten.  The  armed  struggle  which  fol- 


1870.]  Luther  and  German  Freedom.  121 

lowed  in  the  wake  of  the  restricted  Reformation  movement 
lasted,  with  short  intervals,  not,  as  is  often  stated,  a  gener 
ation  merely,  but  fully  a  century.  "What  we  call  the  Thirty 
Years'  War  was  only  the  crisis  of  Germany's  martyrdom. 
She  was  then  literally  trampled  down  under  horses'  hoofa. 
Armies,  formed  of  the  scum  of  Europe,  held  a  series  of  riot 
ous  Walpurgis  nights  over  her  mangled  body.  Her  life-blood 
ebbed  out  whilst  her  soul  was  panting  for  spiritual  freedom. 
In  some  of  the  old  chronicles  it  is  described  how,  in  the  de 
serted  villages,  wolves  with  their  litters  were  found  in  the 
beds  of  the  massacred  or  exiled  inhabitants.  The  springs  of 
pity  seemed  to  be  frozen  in  the  hearts  of  men.  Year  by  year 
war  cut  down  hundreds  of  thousands,  whilst  famine  and  pesti 
lence  swept  over  the  land,  bearing  with  them  crowds  of  vic 
tims.  Hunger  made  men  cannibals,  and  even  the  graveyards 
had  to  be  guarded.  In  this  fashion  the  Reformation  was 
achieved. 

I  have  striven  to  give,  within  a  short  compass,  a  sketch  of 
the  earlier  national  struggles  of  Germany.  It  is,  I  believe,  of 
importance  to  remember  that  the  aspirations  of  the  German 
popular  party  are  not  of  yesterday ;  that,  widened  as  its  aims 
are  now,  it  has  something  to  look  back  upon  ;  that  there  is  an 
ancient  tradition,  however  full  of  sad  remembrances,  for  Ger 
man  unity  as  for  German  freedom ;  and  I  trust  that  the  long 
battle  for  the  people's  rights  will  end  in  the  establishment  of  a 
New  Germany,  comprising  all  its  members,  great  in  liberty, 
and  strong  in  self-defence. 

KARL  BLIND. 


122  The  Labor  Question.  [July, 


ART.  VI.  —  THE  LABOR  QUESTION. 

THE  most  thankless  service  which  can  be  rendered  to  man  is 
that  of  showing  him  what  he  cannot  do.  When  he  has  set 
his  heart  upon  an  object,  and  is  striving  after  its  accomplish 
ment,  in  what  seems  to  him  the  most  promising  way,  he  does 
not  like  to  be  told  either  that  tjie  object  itself  is  unattainable 
or  that  the  way  he  has  adopted  does  not  lead  to  it.  No  matter 
how  conclusive  the  demonstration  may  be,  he  is  pretty  sure  to 
regard  him  who  presents  it  as  an  enemy.  And  yet  it  is  a 
serious  question  whether  modern  scientific  investigation  has 
not  done  more  for  us  in  this  indirect  way  than  in  any  other. 
When  an  end  is  to  be  attained  many  ways  of  doing  it  present 
themselves  to  the  mind.  If  the  impracticability  of  any  one  is 
demonstrated,  the  labor  of  trying  it  is  saved,  and  the  atten 
tion  may  be  confined  to  those  which  are  more  practicable. 
The  establishment  of  the  simple  fact  that  power  cannot  be 
generated  by  machinery,  or,  in  common  language,  that  per 
petual  motion  is  impossible,  has  alone  kept  an  amount  of 
mechanical  ingenuity  from  being  wasted  on  an  unattainable 
object  which  can  hardly  be  over-estimated. 

The  present  labor  party  stands  greatly  in  need  of  such  help. 
We  see  a  vigorous  effort  on  the  part  of  a  class  of  laborers  to 
improve  their  condition  by  the  instrumentality  of  legislation. 
This  class  has  attained  a  certain  middle  stage  of  moral  and 
intellectual  development.  Its  members  are  fully  conscious  of 
possessing  rights  which  the  rest  of  the  world  is  bound  to 
respect,  and  are  quite  ready  to  enforce  their  rights  by  every 
proper  means,  but  they  are  still  deficient  in  that  thorough 
understating  of  the  complicated  machinery  of  modern  society 
which  alone  can  enable  them  to  foresee  the  ultimate  effect  upon 
their  own  interests  of  the  measures  they  wish  to  adopt.  It 
would  not,  therefore,  be  strange  should  we  find  them  engaged 
in  pushing  forward  measures  which  must  ultimately  be  preju 
dicial  to  their  own  interests.  In  so  far  as  this  is  the  case,  no 
greater  kindness  can  be  done  them  than  to  point  out  to  them 
wherein  their  exertions  must  fail  to  accomplish  their  object. 

The  term  "  laboring  classes  "is  so  vague  that  we  shall  be 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  123 

led  into  confusion  unless  we  define  with  greater  precision  the 
class  whose  interests  are  to  be  considered.  In  the  widest 
sense  of  the  term  every  man  who  exerts  his  faculties  in  satis 
fying  the  wants  of  his  fellow-men  is  a  laborer,  no  matter 
whether  those  faculties  are  physical  or  intellectual,  whether 
the  wants  are  those  of  body  or  mind.  The  opposing  class  of 
capitalists  consists  of  the  owners  of  the  machinery,  tools,  and 
raw  materials  on  which  and  with  which  labor  is  employed. 
Their  income  consists  of  the  interest  paid  them  for  the  use  of 
their  capital.  The  distinction  between  the  services  rendered 
by  these  two  classes  is  well  defined,  but  it  is  hard  to  draw  a 
line  between  the  individual  members  of  the  two  classes.  Every 
carpenter  who  owns  the  tools  he  works  with  is,  to  that  extent, 
a  capitalist,  and  every  man  actively. engaged  in  business  is  a 
laborer,  however  large  may  be  the  capital  he  employs.  The 
class  of  capitalists  proper,  that  is,  of  men  who  live  on  the 
interest  of  their  money,  without  exertion,  is  quite  small  in  this 
country. 

The  impossibility  of  drawing  a  sharply  defined  line  between 
the  laborer  and  the  capitalist  need  not,  however,  cause  us  any 
difficulty  in  our  present  discussion,  since  it  is  easy  to  consider 
separately  the  interests  of  each  man  as  laborer  and  as  capital 
ist.  Laborers,  in  the  wide  sense  of  the  term  just  now  adopted, 
may  be  roughly  divided  into  three  classes. 

(1.)  Unskilled  laborers,  or  those  whose  occupation  requires 
the  use  of  no  faculty  except  muscular  strength. 

(2.)  Skilled  laborers,  whose  occupation  requires  a  special 
training  of  the  hand  or  of  the  senses,  more  especially  of  the 
eye,  the  ear,  or  the  touch.  This  class,  including  mechanics  of 
every  kind,  is  that  from  which  trades  unions  are  formed. 

(3.)  Intellectual  laborers,  whose  occupation  requires  mainly 
mental  ability.  This  class  includes  not  only  professional  men, 
but  all  whose  business  consists  in  planning,  directing,  or  man 
aging. 

The  present  army  of  labor  is  recruited  almost  entirely  from 
the  second  class.  Among  its  emblems  we  find  the  plane,  the 
trowel,  and  the  hammer,  but  not  the  hod  or  the  shovel.  Farm 
hands  are  never  found  in  labor  conventions.  Diggers  on  rail 
roads  sometimes  strike,  but  they  receive  no  pecuniary  aid  from 


124  The  Labor  Question. 

labor  unions.  If  teamsters  or  hod-carriers  ever  marched  in 
an  eight-hour  procession  it  was  not  in  the  hope  of  any  other 
spoils  than  such  as  their  superiors  might  choose  to  leave  them. 
Yet  if  we  are  to  consider  the  feasibility  of  dividing  the  products 
of  human  labor  among  the  producers  in  proportion  to  the  ex 
ertions  of  each,  the  neglected  class  of  unskilled  laborers  will 
first  claim  our  attention.  From  this  point  of  view  that  class 
has  more  cause  of  complaint  than  any  other.  If  we  watch 
the  erection  of  a  building  we  find  employed  on  the  work  hod- 
carriers,  bricklayers,  master-workmen,  and  an  architect.  If 
all  these  classes  were  equally  well  paid,  and  any  one  equally 
capable  of  performing  the  duties  of  any  class  were  called  on 
to  choose  to  which  he  would  belong,  his  first  choice  would 
undoubtedly  be  the  duties  of  the  architect,  and  his  last  those 
of  the  hod-carrier.  From  the  ethical  point  of  view  we  have 
suggested  the  occupation  of  the  hod-carrier,  being  most  dis 
agreeable,  should  be  the  best  remunerated,  and  that  of  the 
architect  the  least  well  paid.  But  we  find  the  actual  scale  of 
remuneration  to  increase  in  the  opposite  direction.  The  brick 
layer  receives  from  two  to  three  times  the  wages  of  the  hod- 
carrier,  the  master-workman  more  than  the  bricklayer,  and  the 
architect  more  than  both  together.  The  same  law  will  be 
recognized  as  extending  almost  universally  through  society. 
It  would  be  easy  to  show  that  this  is  a  necessary  result  of  cir 
cumstances  over  which  society  has  no  control,  were  it  not 
foreign  to  our  present  object.  That  object  is  to  make  it  clear 
that  the  class  actively  engaged  in  the  present  labor  movement 
forms  but  a  fraction  of  the  laboring  population,  and  by  no 
means  that  fraction  which,  from  its  own  point  of  view,  has 
most  cause  of  complaint. 

The  class  whose  interests  ought  to  be  kept  in  sight  in  this 
discussion  includes  all  who  are  unable  to  live  upon  the 
interest  of  their  capital,  and  who  are  therefore  obliged  to 
labor  with  head  or  hand.  This  class,  with  their  families,  which 
belong  to  it,  numbers,  no  doubt,  more  than  forty-nine  out  of 
every  fifty  of  our  population.  If  we  include  only  those  who, 
from  insufficiency  of  income,  are  unable  to  supply  their  current 
wants,  and  so  feel  themselves  under  constant  pecuniary  press 
ure,  we  shall  probably  include  nine  tenths  of  the  whole  popu- 


1370.]  The  Labor  Question.  125 

lation.    In  round  numbers,  there  are  thirty-six  millions  of  peo 
ple  in  this  country  whose  interests  we  are  now  to  consider. 

When  we  try  to  view  so  large  a  field  from  the  stand-point  of 
every-day  life  our  horizon  is  too  limited  to  see  things  in  all  their 
bearings.  Let  us  then,  in  imagination,  raise  ourselves  to  a  posi 
tion  whence  we  can  comprehend  the  interests  of  these  thirty-six 
millions  in  a  single  view.  We  find  them  all  in  want  of  things 
which  may  be  classified  under  the  general  heads  of  food,  cloth 
ing,  shelter,  and  home  comforts.  The  ultimate  object  of  all 
organized  movements  among  laborers  is  to  secure  a  better  su- 
ply  of  these  necessaries,  or,  which  amounts  to  the 
to  keep  up  their  present  supply  with  a  less 
Let  us  now  see  how  this  object  can  be  sec 

We  begin  with  shelter.     The  classes;/^  consideration  oc_ 
cupy  perhaps  three  millions  of  hj^BeBi.      But  the  houses  are 
neither  so  spacious  nor  so^coErenient  as  js  desirable.     Some 
are  in  need  of  repairs,  others  are  too  small,  and  need  en 
larging.      New  families   a-e   forming,   and   new  houses   are 
wanted  for  them.     Tne   most  urgent  want  of  the   laboring 
classes  is  to  hayG  their  houses  repaired,  improved,  or  rebuilt. 
How  can  this  be  done  ?     The  answer  13  a  truism,  but  one  of 
that  large  class  of  truisms  which  we  constantly  overlook.     We 
must  have  more  mechanical  work  done  on  houses.      We 'must 
set  more  carpenters,  bricklayers,  plasterers,  and   painters  at 
work,  or  those  whom  we  already  have  must  work  more  indus 
triously  or  more  effectively.    If  our  present  supply  of  mechanics 
cannot  keep  the  entire  population  supplied  with  good  houses, 
no  legislation  will  enable  them  to  do  so.     It  takes  a  certain 
number  of  days'  work  to  build  or  repair  a  house,  and  when  we 
multiply  the  number  bf  house-builders  by  the  three  hundred 
we  have  the  entire  nunber  of  days'  work  which  can  be  spent  on 
houses  in  the  course  orthe  year.    As  an  increased  expenditure 
of  labor  on  houses  is  nWssary  to  supply  the  first  want  of  the 
laborer,  so,  if  universal^  applied,  it  is  sufficient.     If  the  size 
and  convenience  of  all  tfe  houses  in  the  country  were  doubled, 
they  would  still  have  to  \e  occupied  by  the  same  classes  who 
now  occupy  them,  and  thilaborers  would  enjoy  their  full  share 
of  the  advantage.     Event  all  the  additional  labor  were  spent 
in  building  new  houses  forthe  wealthy,  laborers  would  still  get 


The  Labor  Question.  [July, 

a  good  share  of  the  benefit.  The  old  houses  vacated  by  the 
owners  of  the  new  ones  would  now  be  for  sale  or  rent  to  the 
class  which  came  next  in  wealth;  the  latter  would  vacate 
houses  for  the  class  below  them,  and  this  operation  would  con 
tinue  to  the  bottom  of  the  scale. 

The  results  of  this  survey  may  be  summed  up  by  saying  that 
it  is  a  physical  impossibility  for  laborers  to  enjoy  better  shelter 
unless  the  present  houses  are  rebuilt  or  improved ;  that  they 
cannot  be  rebuilt  or  improved  without  expending  more  me 
chanical  labor,  and  that  if  more  mechanical  labor  is  expended 
^^  Bouses,  the  laborers  will  enjoy  their  full  share  of  the  benefit. 
Such  be/*1**  the  Case>  Jt  might  naturall7  be  supposed  that  a 
general  orgam^d  e??r*  on  the  Part  of  the  Borers  to  improve 
their  condition  wou^   have  for  lts  first  obJect  to  increase  in 
every  possible  way  the  sizv?  and  number  of  houses  to  be  built, 
and  therefore  to  increase  as  n?uch  as  possible  the  number  of 
house-builders,  and  the  amount  £f  work  each  builder  should  do 
in  a  day,  the^e  being  necessary  prerequisites  to  the  enjoyment  of 
better  houses.    Singular  as  it  would  seem  ic  one  not  acquainted 
with  their  history,  we  find  all  the  efforts  of  labor  unions  exerted 
in  the  opposite  direction. 

We  find  among  their  rules  one  which  limits  the  number  of 
apprentices  who  shall  be  allowed  to  learn  how  to  build  any  part 
of  the  house,  the  object  being  to  keep  the  number  of  house- 
builders  as  small  as  possible.  Tliis  rule  is  enforced  by  each 
individual  pledging  himself  to 'work  for  no  master  who  takes 
more  than  the  prescribed  number  of  apprentices.  We  also  find 
that,  whenever  there  is  a  strike  of  the  bncklajers,  carpenters, 
or  any  other  class  of  men  engaged  in  builiing  houses,  the  labor 
unions,  instead  of  being  impatient  at  thestoppage  of  work  upon 
houses,  and  the  consequent  injury  to  ther  prospect  of  improved 
houses  to  live  in,  always  give  every  encouragement  to  the  strjk- 
ers,  and  support  them  with  liberal  graits  of  money.  We  also 
find  that  when  trades  unions  have  reguated  the  amount  of  work 
their  members  may  do,  their  object  ha(  not  been  to  increase  this 
amount,  but  to  diminish  it.  No  bricklayers'  union  has,  we  be 
lieve,  ever  required  that  its  membes  should  come  up  to  any 
standard  of  efficiency.  But  rules  prohibiting  members  from 
laying  more  than  a  certain  numbr  of  bricks  —  generally  a 


T-abor  Question.  127 

1870.]  The  ± 

"^  universal.     Finally,  we 

thousand  —  per  day  are  common,  if  n^          ^-nt  labor  party  is 
know  very  well  that  the  object  of  the  pre^  -  that  can  be 

still  further  to  limit  the  amount  of  house-buildinfo 
done  by  diminishing  the  number  of  hours  that 
shall  be  allowed  to.  work.  It  is  clear  that  if  the  community  is 
insufficiently  supplied  with  houses  when  builders  work  ten  hours 
a  day,  the  case  will  be  yet  worse  under  the  eight-hour  system. 

Next  to  shelter  better  clothing  is  perhaps  the  greatest  want 
of  the  laboring  classes.  Probably  four  fifths  of  our  laborers 
are  in  want  of  a  Sunday  suit  for  themselves  or  of  a  decent 
wardrobe  for  their  wives  and  children.  To  furnish  the  Sunday 
suits  for  the  heads  of  families  alone,  about  thirty  million  yards  of 
cloth  are  absolutely  necessary.  Before  this  cloth  can  be  got  new 
factories  must  be  built  or  the  old  ones  must  be  enlarged,  new 
machinery  must  be  set  going,  more  freight  cars  or  ships  must 
be  employed  to  transport  the  cloth,  and  new  warehouses  must 
be  built  to  store  it  until  each  laborer  is  ready  to  buy  his  share. 
When  all  this  is  done  there  must  be  tailors  enough  to  make  it 
up.  And  all  the  factories,  cars,  warehouses,  and  tailors  must 
be  additional  to  what  was  necessary  to  keep  up  the  old  supply 
of  ordinary  clothes,  else  the  latter  will  fail. 

Yet  we  find  the  labor  unions,  as  a  rule,  ready  to  obstruct 
every  one  of  these  processes  by  every  device  in  their  power.  If 
a  combination  of  European  paupers  and  capitalists  offers  to  fur 
nish  the  cloth  at  a  price  so  low  that  the  laborer  can  well  afford 
it,  government  will  try  to  stop  the  purchase  by  a  protective  duty, 
and  the  very  laborers  who  want  the  cloth  generally  support  this 
policy.  If  the  bricklayers  who  are  erecting  the  factory  which 
is  to  make  the  cloth,  or  the  masons  who  are  building  a  ware 
house  -to  store  it,  happen  to  stop  work  through  a  quarrel  with 
their  employers,  every  trades  union  in  the  country  will  con 
tribute  money  for  their  support,  and  will  prohibit  their  mem 
bers  from  taking  their  places  on  the  work.  If  the  tailors 
strike,  they  also  are  sure  of  liberal  support  from  the  hard- 
earned  wages  of  the  very  men  who  most  want  the  clothes  they 
might  be  making. 

The  present  labor  movement  thus  presents  us  with  the  para 
dox  of  a  network  of  organizations,  extending  over  the  country, 
actively  engaged  in  obstructing  the  measures  most  necessary 


128  The  Labor  ' 

^  Question. 
for  supplying  the  wa^ ' 
five  millions  o*          .^cs  of  their  individual  members.     Thirty- 
and  hor^'          -*  people  are  in  want  of  houses,  clothing,  food, 
i^J          ^w  comforts,  and  the  most  active  of  them  are  organized 
,^t,o  trades  unions  whose  principal  object  is  directly  or  indi 
rectly  to  limit  in   every  practicable  way  the   production   of 
houses  and  clothing,  and  of  some  home  comforts.     The  con 
clusion  seems  inevitable  that  the  efforts  of  these  organizations 
do  not  tend  to  improve  the  condition  of  their  members.     This 
improvement  can  be  effected  only  by  a  policy  which  shall  have 
for  its  object  to  increase  the  number  of  skilled  laborers,  to  keep 
them  constantly  employed,  and  to  make  their  labor  as  effec 
tive  as  possible.     Unhappily,  the  strife  after  the  highest  wages 
stands  in  the  way  of  any  such  policy,  and  the  question  of  the 
exact  benefit  of  high  wages  next  demands  our  attention. 

It  is  commonly  thought  that,  if  the  laborer  can  only  succeed 
in  getting  better  wages,  he  is  necessarily  better  off.  If  the 
increase  is  confined  to  a  single  class  the  opinion  is  quite  cor 
rect.  Common  sense  shows  that  the  condition  of  an  individ 
ual  laborer  is  improved  when  he  gets  higher  wages,  provided 
always  that  he  can  purchase  everything  he  wants  at  the  same 
rate  as  before.  But  if  he  has  to  give  more  for  everything  he 
buys  in  the  same  proportion  with  his  increase  of  wages,  —  if, 
for  instance,  having  his  weekly  wages  increased  from  fifteen  to 
twenty  dollars,  he  has  to  give  one-third  more  for  everything  he 
wants,  —  common  sense  shows  equally  that  he  is  no  better  off 
than  before.  Now  it  is  a  proposition  susceptible  of  mathe 
matical  demonstration,  that,  if  every  one  receives  an  increase 
of  compensation  in  a  fixed  ratio  for  everything  he  does,  and 
every  service  he  renders,  the  cost  of  everything  one  has  to  buy 
will  be  increased  in  the  same  ratio,  and  no  one  will  gain  any 
thing.  To  illustrate  this  principle,  let  us  begin  with  the  class 
of  carpenters.  If  all  the  carpenters  in  the  country  have  their 
wages  increased  one  third,  without  doing  any  more  work  than 
before,  the  cost  of  all  the  houses  built  will  be  increased  by  one 
third  the  value  of  the  carpenters'  work.  This  increased  cost 
must  finally  come  out  of  the  pockets  of  all  occupants  of  houses, 
laborers  included,  in  the  form  of  increased  rent  if  they  be  ten 
ants,  or  increased  cost  of  purchase  if  they  be  owners.  If  only 
the  carpenters  received  the  increase  of  wages,  the  burden  of 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  129 

the  increased  cost,  being  divided  among  the  whole  mass  of 
their  fellow-citizens,  will  be  light.  But  if  the  lumbermen,  the 
brickmakers,  the  bricklayers,  the  painters,  and  every  one  else 
engaged  in  house-building,  get  a  similar  increase  of  wages,  the 
cost  of  everything  which  goes  into  a  house  will  be  increased 
one  third,  and  the  entire  population,  laborers  included,  must 
pay  one  third  more  for  their  houses. 

The  same  rule  applies  to  everything  which  the  laborer  has 
occasion  to  buy.  The  price  we  pay  for  any  article  is  divided 
amongst  the  several  producers  of  it  in  the  shape  of  wages  or 
profits.  If  every  one  engaged  in  the  production  of  food  has  his 
compensation  increased  a  third,  all  the  food  bought  must  cost 
one  third  more.  Continuing  the  same  course  of  reasoning 
throughout  the  community,  we  see  that  when  every  one  has 
his  income  increased  by  one  third  no  one  is  any  ^better  off 
than  before. 

Corresponding  to  this  proposition  is  another  of  equal  impor 
tance.  If  every  one  in  the  community  performs  one  third  more 
abor  for  his  present  wages,  the  entire  community  will  be  one 
third  better  off  than  before.  Houses  one  third  more  valuable 
can  then  be  built  for  the  same  money,  and,  in  consequence, 
every  one  who  occupies  a  house  will  be  able  to  get  one  a  third 
better  at  the  present  rent,  or  for  the  present  price.  The  same 
effect  will  extend  through  everything  the  laborer  wants  to  eat, 
drink,  or  wear.  He  will  be  able  to  command  one  third  more  of 
articles,  or  articles  one  third  better,  for  the  same  money  he  now 
pays.  This  verifies  the  conclusion  to  which  we  were  first  led 
from  our  review  of  the  wants  of  the  country.  The  laboring 
classes  can  have  their  condition  improved,  not  by  a  general 
I  n crease  of  wages,  but  only  by  a  general  increase  in  the  effec 
tiveness  of  their  labor. 

An  objection  may  be  raised  to  this  conclusion,  that  it  is 
reached  only  by  carrying  the  increase  of  wages  a  great  deal 
farther  than  the  advocates  of  labor  reform  propose.  We  have, 
i  n  fact,  supposed  that  every  one,  laborer,  tradesman,  and  capi 
talist,  gets  one  third  more  money  for  whatever  service  he  ren 
ders  the  community.  For  instance,  according  to  our  hypothe 
sis,  when  the  carpenter  goes  to  market  with  one  third  more 
money  in  his  pocket,  he  finds  that  everything  costs  one  third 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  9 


130  The  Labor  Question. 

more,  because  the  huckster,  the  farmer,  the  wagoner,  and  the 
farm  laborer  all  have  an  increase  of  one  third  in  their  wages 
and  profits.  But  the  labor  party  may  say  that  they  intend  to 
confine  the  increase  to  the  wagoner  and  the  farm  laborer,  to 
the  exclusion  of  the  farmer  and  the  huckster ;  that  then  the 
cost  of  the  vegetables  will  be  increased  only  by  the  third  of 
the  wages  of  the  laborers  proper,  which  will  perhaps  make  an 
increase  of  not  more  than  one  sixth  of  the  entire  cost ;  and 
that,  if  this  can  be  effected,  the  carpenter  will  gain  by  the 
amount  of  one  half  his  increase  of  wages. 

Let  us  see  how  far  this  objection  is  valid.  And,  first,  let  us 
see  what  ground  it  does  not  cover.  It  does  not  diminish  the 
absurdity  we  have  commented  upon  in  the  efforts  of  the  labor 
unions  to  restrict  production.  An  organized  effort  to  have  as 
little  house-building  done  as  possible  is  one  thing ;  an  effort 
to  obtain  an  increase  of  wages  for  doing  the  same  amount 
of  building  is  quite  another  thing.  The  former  works  evil 
to  everybody  who  wants  a  house  to  live  in,  be  he  laborer  or 
capitalist ;  the  latter  benefits  those  who  get  the  increase  of 
wages  at  the  expense  of  those  who  do  not,  by  making  the 
latter  pay  more  for  the  same  service.  The  benefit  received 
by  the  increase  of  wages  will  keep  growing  smaller  as  the 
increase  is  extended  to  other  classes,  and  will  vanish  entirely 
when  extended  to  all.  If  any  member  —  and  the  same  is  true 
of  any  class  —  of  the  community  thinks  himself  insufficiently 
paid,  he  has  a  perfect  right  to  get  more  if  he  can.  If  the  labor 
movement  is  a  general  effort  on  the  part  of  the  laboring  classes 
to  benefit  themselves  at  the  expense  of  their  fellow-men,  by 
getting  an  increase  of  wages,  it  is  one  on  which  they  have  a 
perfect  right  to  enter.  We  propose  next  to  inquire  whether 
this  object  is  attainable,  and,  if  so,  what  will  be  the  conse 
quences  of  success. 

In  the  contest  we  are  now  to  review,  the  class  of  intellectual 
laborers  may  be  considered  as  simple  spectators,  having  no  in 
terest  in  it  beyond  that  which  every  member  of  the  community 
has,  —  that  is,  an  interest  in  having  everything  necessary  to 
his  comfort  produced  as  cheaply  as  possible.  Skilled  laborers, 
working  on  their  own  account  and  with  their  own  capital, 
may  be  included  in  the  same  category.  Leaving  out  these 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  131 

and  all  other  neutrals,  the  contest  is  narrowed  down  to  one 
between  the  employers  and  the  employed,  or  between  the 
laborer  and  the  capitalist.  There  is  a  certain  division  of  the 
combined  product  of  labor  and  capital  between  these  classes. 
The  laborer  is  dissatisfied  with  his  share,  and  is  trying  to 
increase  it.  What  will  be  the  ultimate  effect  on  his  own 
interests  if  he  succeeds  ?  This  question  involves  some  of  the 
most  intricate  and  least  understood  principles  of  political  econ 
omy,  and  must  therefore  be  approached  with  some  consider 
ations  of  a  general  nature.  These  considerations  have  especial 
reference  to  the  interest  of  the  laborer  in  the  capital  of  others  ; 
to  the  conditions  under  which  capital  is  accumulated  ;  and  to 
the  effect  of  the  absence  of  conditions  favorable  to  that  accu 
mulation. 

How  are  we  to  define  capital  ?  Usually  it  is  defined  as  that 
part  of  the  wealth  of  a  country  which  is  kept,  not  for  its  own 
sake,  but  to  be  employed  further  in  production.  This  definition 
suffices  to  give  a  general  idea  of  what  capital  is.  But  when  we 
examine  it  closely  we  find  it  impossible  to  make  a  distinction 
between  wealth  kept  for  its  pwn  sake  and  wealth  kept  to  aid 
in  the  production  of  more  wealth.  Indeed,  if  we  take  the 
term  "  production  "  in  its  widest  sense,  the  definition  will  in 
clude  everything  in  the  shape  of  material  wealth,  since  the 
object  of  all  such  wealth  is  the  production  of  that  immaterial 
wealth  termed  "  gratification  of  desires."  And  if  we  suppose  the 
term  "  .production  "  to  mean  production  of  material  objects  only, 
this  will  leave  capital  to  mean  all  wealth  except  that  which 
comes  last  in  the  chain  of  material  causes  leading  to  the  grati 
fication  of  desire.  We  shall  thus  frequently  be  troubled  to  say 
which  is  the  last  link.  Take  the  winter's  supply  of  coals  for 
our  dwellings.  This  is  designed  for  the  production  of  heat, 
and  if  we  regard  heat  as  a  product,  then  the  coal  falls  under 
the  head  of  capital.  But  we  apprehend  that  few  economists 
would  consider  it  such. 

The  complex  nature  of  political  economy,  its  peculiar  asso 
ciation  of  things  so  spiritual  as  hopes,  fears,  and  desires  with 
things  so  material  as  ploughs,  ships,  and  steam-hammers  ren 
ders  an  accurate  classification  of  the  objects  about  which  it 
reasons  very  difficult.  Any  classification  founded  on  the  ex- 


132  The  Labor  Question. 

ternal  qualities  of  objects  will  be  worse  than  useless.  For  the 
science  in  question  is  essentially  moral.  The  cause  with  which 
it  begins  is  human  desires ;  the  effect  with  which  it  ends  is 
the  gratification  of  those  desires.  'Its  definitions  should,  there 
fore,  be  founded  on  moral  considerations,  physical  objects 
being  classified  with  reference  to  the  mental  states  with  which 
they  are  connected.  Under  this  system  an  object  which  be 
longs  to  one  class  when  you  own  it,  may  belong  to  another 
when  you  sell  it  to  your  neighbor,  and  thus  distinctions  are 
introduced  which,  on  a  superficial  view,  seem  fanciful.  This 
defect,  if  it  is  a  defect,  inheres  in  the  very  nature  of  the  science. 

The  essential  properties  of  capital  are,  we  conceive,  best  ex 
pressed  when  we  define  it  as  all  those  products  of  past  labor 
from  the  enjoyment  of  which  the  owners  are  abstaining  for  the 
sake  of  a  future  profit.  We  do  not  pretend  that  this  definition 
affords  an  infallible  touchstone  by  which  to  determine  imme 
diately  whether  any  known  object  is  or  is  not  capital,  but  only 
that  it  involves  the  essential  idea  of  capital.  In  every-day  lan 
guage,  a  man's  capital  Consists  of  all  the  money  he  has  saveti 
from  his  income,  and  put  out  at  interest,  or  otherwise  invested, 
so  as  to  yield  him  a  profit.  The  interest,  or  other  profit,  is 
the  only  inducement  to  save  and  invest.  Unless  his  investment 
increases  it  will  never  yield  him  any  greater  advantage  than  it 
would  if  he  should  spend  and  enjoy  it  now,  and  the  risk  of 
losing  it  .would  prompt  him  to  enjoy  his  money  while  he  could. 

It  may  not  at  first  sight  be  evident  that  the  wealth  from 
the  present  enjoyment  of  which  the  owners  are  abstaining  for 
the  sake  of  future  profit  is  identical  with  the  mills  which  make 
our  clothes,  the  warehouses  which  hold  them,  and  the  dwell 
ings  which  the  laboring  classes  rent,  ani  indeed  with  that  vast 
system  of  industrial  machinery  by  which  the  community  is 
housed,  clothed,  and  fed.  To  make  this  clear,  let  us  consider 
how  a  factory  came  to  be 'built.  To  fix  the  ideas,  we  will 
suppose  that  it  cost  its  owner  $  100,000.  Then,  at  the  time  of 
building,  its  owner  must  have  been  in  possession  of  this  sum 
of  money,  with  the  right  to  spend  it  as  he  chose.  The  case  in 
which  it  was  borrowed  will  be  considered  presently.  Had  he 
chosen  he  might  have  spent  it  on  expensive  furniture  for 
his  house,  costly  pictures,  rare  wines,  and  sumptuous  dinners 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question. 

for  himself  and  his  friends.  Had  he  consulted  only  his  tem 
porary  gratification,  without  care  for  the  future,  he  would  thus, 
as  long  as  his  money  lasted,  have  derived  much  more  pleasure 
from  it  than  from  the  erection  of  a  factory  which  would  be  of 
no  service  to  him  for  several  years  to  come.  But  since  he  could 
not  with  the  same  money  obtain  these  articles  of  temporary 
gratification,  and  also  build  the  factory,  he  has  denied  himself, 
and  chosen  the  factory,  giving  up  the  temporary  good  of  the 
present  for  the  sake  of  a  more  enduring  good  in  the  future. 
]STot,  indeed,  that  the  factory  afforded  him  no  gratification  until 
he  began  to  draw  dividends  from  it,  but  that  the  gratification 
was  only  that  which  arose  from  a  prospective  good.  What  is 
true  of  the  factory  is  true  of  every  railroad,  every  warehouse, 
every  stock  of  goods  for  sale,  and  every  house  built  for  rent. 
The  money  paid  for  all  these,  and  other  forms  of  capital,  has 
been  saved  by  the  owners  from  expenditure  upon  their  current 
wants,  otherwise  not  one  of  them  would  ever  have  existed.  If 
the  projectors  of  any  of  these  enterprises  did  not  own  the 
money  themselves  they  must  have  borrowed  it  from  some  one 
else,  and  then  it  was  the  lender  who  denied  himself  the  use 
of  it  upon  his  current  wants,  for  the  sake  of  the  interest  he 
expected  to  receive  from  it. 

The  profit  on  capital  is  Nature's  reward  for  self-denial. 
From  this  point  of  view  we  see  one  reason  why  an  uncivilized 
people  never  accumulates  capital  to  any  great  extent.  To  the 
savage,  a  year  hence  is  as  distant  as  eternity.  He  may  take 
thought  of  the  literal  morrow,  but  he  feels  little  concern  for 
the  self  of  next  year.  The  only  object  of  saving  capital  being 
to  benefit  a  future  self,  for  whom  he  has  no  consideration,  he 
never  saves.  In  illustration  of  the  depth  of  this  defect,  we 
may  cite  the  difficulty  of  introducing  agriculture  among  such 
tribes,  arising  from  their  persistent  consumption  of  the  grain 
which  should  be  kept  for  seed. 

The  laborer  has  a  direct  interest  in  the  increase  of  capital  to 
the  greatest  possible  extent.  The  destruction  or  diminution  of 
capital  inflicts  more  injury  upon  him  than  upon  the  capitalist. 
We  have  already  shown  that  it  is  for  the  interest  of  the  laborer 
to  have  the  greatest  possible  number  of  comfortable  houses 
built,  and  the  greatest  possible  quantity  of  good  and  cheap 


134  The  Labor  Question.  [July, 

clothes  manufactured.  It  can  now  be  shown  that  everything 
the  capitalist  saves  the  laborer  directly  or  indirectly  gets  the 
advantage  of,  in  the  shape  of  better  houses,  food,  and  clothes, 
and  more  articles  of  comfort  or  luxury.  There  is  sound  sense 
in  the  remark  attributed  to  John  Jacob  Astor,  that  all  he  really 
got  from  his  wealth  was  his  food  and  clothing.  All  that  the 
capitalist  really  takes  as  his  share  of  the  joint  product  of  cap 
ital  and  labor  is  what  he  spends  on  his  current  wants.  We 
shall  prove  this  by  showing  that  if  he  spends  nothing  on  his 
current  wants,  but  employs  all  his  money  as  new  capital  as  fast 
as  he  makes  it,  his  laborers  will  have  the  benefit  of  his  capital 
as  completely  as  if  they  owned  it  themselves. 

For  this  purpose  let  us  return  to  the  consideration  of  the 
factory.     Its  operatives  and  its  machinery  are  employed  in  the 
production  of  clothes  and  other  articles  conducive  to  the  well- 
being  of  the  laborers.     By  building  the  factory  the  capitalist 
has  increased  the  production  of  those  articles,  and  cheapened 
their  price,  and  so  brought  them  within  the  reach  of  a  larger 
number.     But,  it  will  be  objected,  he  does  not  divide  the  cloth 
among  the  laborers,  but  makes  all  pay  full  price  for  it.     This 
is  true ;  only,  as  just  now  intimated,  he  does  not  get  quite  as 
much  for  it  as  it  would  have  cost,  had  his  factory  not  existed. 
But  let  us  see  what  he  does  with  the  money  received  for  the 
cloth.     A  large  part  of  it  is  spent  in  paying  the  wages  of  the 
operatives.     Another  portion  goes  to  keep  the  building  and 
machinery  in  repair,  and  to  form  a  fund  for  replacing  every 
thing  as  fast  as  it  shall  wear  out.     What  is  left  after  paying 
all  expenses  and  keeping  everything  whole  is  the  profit  of  the 
capitalist,  and  this  is  usually  but  a  small  annual  percentage 
on  the  original  cost.     This  profit  is  all  the  capitalist  really 
makes  by  his  enterprise,  and,  by  hypothesis,  he  turns  it  all 
into  new  capital.    If,  then,  we  follow  it  into  his  pocket  and  out 
again,  we  may  find  him  using  it  to  build  a  block  of  dwellings 
which  will  be  occupied  by  the  operatives  employed  in  his  fac 
tory.     So  long  as  the  latter  occupy  the  houses,  they  get  the 
benefit  of  them  as  completely  as  if  they  owned  them.     But  in 
the  latter  case  they  would  pay  no  rent,  which  they  now  have 
to  do.     To  see  whether  this  rent  is  lost  to  the  labor  of  the 
country  we  must  follow  it,  as  we  did  the  profit  of  the  factory, 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  135 

into  the  owner's  pocket  and  out  again.  Population  increasing, 
more  cloth  is  required  to  clothe  it,  and  more  laborers  are  seek 
ing  employment.  Accordingly  the  capitalist  finds  it  for  his  in 
terest  to  expend  his  surplus  profits  and  rents  in  enlarging  his 
factory  and  improving  his  machinery  so  as  to  make  cloth  of  a 
better  quality,  and  to  make  such  other  articles  of  comfort  as 
the  operatives  and  the  public  may  wish  to  buy.  We  may  con 
tinue  the  process  indefinitely,  and  find  the  entire  energies  of 
the  factory,  including  all  the  profits  derived  from  it,  constantly 
employed  in  ministering  to  the  wants  of  the  public,  and  espe 
cially  to  those  of  the  laboring  class. 

To  complete  our  demonstration  it  is  only  necessary  to  show 
that,  if  the  factory  were  made  over  to  the  operatives  in  fee 
simple,  they  could  hardly  manage  it  better  for  their  own  inter- 
,ests,  and  might  easily  manage  it  a  great  deal  worse.  Suppose, 
then,  that  they  come  into  absolute  ownership.  They  may  do 
what  they  please  with  the  entire  proceeds.  They  may,  if  they 
choose,  spend  them  all  on  their  personal  wants,  enjoying  more 
expensive  food,  clothing,  and  houses,  but  reserving  nothing 
to  repair  and  replace  the  machinery.  Should  they  continue 
in  this  way  for  a  few  years,  the  machinery  would  wear  out. 
Then  they  would  be  worse  off  than  ever.  They  must  apply  to 
capitalists  for  the  means  of  replacing  their  boilers  and  engines. 
But  if  the  entire  capital  of  the  country  has  been  made  over  to 
the  workmen  in  the  same  way,  and  all  have  been  equally  im 
provident,  the  condition  of  all  will  be  deplorable.  Expensive 
and  complicated  machinery  is  necessary  to  make  engines  and 
boilers,  and  if  all  the  machinery  of  the  country  has  deterio 
rated  in  the  same  way  with  that  of  the  factory,  then  the  latter 
can  be  replaced  only  at  an  enormous  disadvantage,  and  all 
would  be  glad  to  purchase  the  use  of  a  new  outfit  at  a  rate  far 
exceeding  that  formerly  paid  to  the  capitalist  as  his  profit. 

But  common  prudence  and  foresight  would  warn  the  new 
owners  of  the  factory  against  this  improvident  course,  and  in 
duce  them  to  lay  up  for  the  future.  What  portion  of  their  net 
proceeds  should  they  lay  up  ?  Just  that  portion  which  formerly 
went  to  the  capitalist  as  owner.  That  is,  when  they  come  into 
possession  of  the  factory,  they  must  not,  at  first,  try  to  better 
their  condition,  but  must  make  the  same  division  of  the  pro- 


136  The  Labor  Question. 

ceeds  of  the  factory  between  their  present  and  their  future 
wants  which  was  formerly  made  between  themselves  and  the 
capitalist.  What  was  before  the  share  of  the  capitalist  is 
now  the  reserved  fund  of  the  laborer.  Following  up  our 
inquiry  to  see  how  this  reserved  fund  shall  be  employed,  we 
shall  find  it  disposed  of  substantially  as  when  the  capitalist 
owned  it,  that  is  to  say,  one  part  will  go  to  repair  and  replace 
the  machinery,  and  another  to  build  new  and  better  houses  for 
the  operatives  and  their  increasing  families.  But  the  opera 
tives  will  not  have  to  pay  rent  for  their  houses.  True  ;  but  if 
they  do  not  pay  the  equivalent  of  the  rent  into  their  reserved 
fund,  they  will  riot  have  the  means  the  capitalist  had  to  enlarge 
the  factory  for  the  supply  of  an  increasing  population.  We 
have  seen  the  capitalist  employing  all  his  surplus  rents  and 
profits  in  this  way,  and  if  the  laboring  owners  do  not  save  as 
much  to  be  employed  in  the  same  way,  they  will  soon  find 
themselves  worse  off  than  before  they  came  into  ownership. 
Since  the  same  amount  they  once  paid  for  rent  must  now  go 
into  the  reserve  fund,  they  will  have  nothing  more  to  spend  on 
their  current  wants  than  when  the  capitalist  was  owner.  This 
process  of  paying  the  capitalist's  share  into  a  reserve  fund 
would  have  to  go  on  indefinitely,  so  that  the  laborers,  by  own 
ing  the  factory,  could  never  enjoy  any  more  of  the  products  of 
their  labor  than  when  they  were  employed  by  a  thrifty  capital 
ist,  who  spent  all  his  profits  in  the  increase  of  his  capital. 

A  careful  examination  of  our  premises  will  make  plain  the 
limitations  under  which  the  results  of  our  reasoning  are  to  be 
accepted.  We  have  supposed  the  capitalist  to  put  the  entire 
income  from  his  factory  into  the  form  of  more  capital,  whereas, 
of  course,  he  does  this  only  in  part,  since  he  must  live,  and  will 
be  likely  to  spend  more  on  his  wants  than  he  could  gain  by  his 
mere  skill,  unaided  by  capital.  The  amount  he  thus  spends  is 
all  he  takes  from  the  reserve  fund  of  the  laborer.  Again,  we 
have  supposed  that  when  he  built  houses  for  rent,  they  were  let 
to  laborers.  But  he  may  let  them  to  men  not  usually  accounted 
laborers, — physicians  or  lawyers,  for  instance.  Here  we  simply 
use  the  term  "  laborer"  in  a  wider  sense  than  is  usual,  including 
under  it  all  who  are  not  capitalists,  or  do  not  own  houses  for 
themselves.  Again,  when  the  capitalist  enlarges  his  factory, 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  137 

it  may  be  to  make  fabrics  which  the  laborers  do  not  want,  — 
fine  silks,  for  instance.  In  this  case  the  factory  will  tend  only 
indirectly  to  make  clothing  abundant  for  the  laborer  by  fur 
nishing  the  wealthy  with  a  substitute.  The  position  we  can 
take  and  maintain  may,  by  these  considerations,  be  reduced  to 
this :  If  the  non-capitalists,  laborers  included,  owned  the  entire 
manufactured  wealth  of  the  country,  their  condition  could  be 
permanently  improved  only  to  a  very  slight  extent,  and  it  is 
very  likely  that  it  would  not  be  improved  at  all.  In  fact,  the 
proposition  that  any  improvement  at  all  in  the  laborer's  condi 
tion  would  be  thus  effected  can,  we  conceive,  be  maintained 
only  on  the  questionable  assumption  that  the  business  affairs 
of  the  factory  or  other  form  of  capital  would  be  as  well  man 
aged  under  the  new  regime  as  under  the  old.  This  question 
will  be  considered  further  on.  We  may,  however,  in  illustra 
tion  of  the  preceding  argument,  cite  the  case  of  communities 
such  as  those  formed  by  the  Shakers.  Here  there  is  no  cap 
italist,  and  no  profits  to  be  absorbed  by  him,  but  the  entire 
product  inures  to  the  benefit  of  the  laborer.  Yet  it  is,  ex 
tremely  doubtful  whether  the  actual  benefit  that  each  indi 
vidual  receives  from  his  labor  comes  up  to  the  average  received 
by  the  farmers  and  mechanics  of  society.  In  making  the 
comparison  it  must  be  remembered,  too,  that  no  eight-hour  rule 
prevails  in  these  societies,  but  that  all  their  members  labor 
with  a  persistence  and  industry  which  most  men  would  find 
irksome. 

One  more  proposition,  and  we  shall  be  ready  to  conclude  this 
intricate  subject  of  capital.  Every  non-capitalist,  whether  la 
borer  or  professional  man,  has  an  interest  in  his  neighbor's 
being  provident,  and  in  his  saving  all  the  capital  he  can. 
This  follows  logically  from  the  principle  already  laid  down, 
that  every  increase  of  capital  tends  to  the  advantage  of  the 
non-capitalist.  But  the  proposition  is  at  the  same  time  so  im 
portant  and  so  frequently  ignored,  that  a  further  illustration  of 
it  is  desirable. 

While  it  makes  little  difference  to  John  Smith,  who  occupies 
a  rented  house,  whether  that  house  burns  down  or  not,  it  is  of 
great  importance  to  him  that  all  the  houses  should  not  burn 
down,  though  they  belong  entirely  to  others.  If  only  his 


138  The  Labor  Question.  [July? 

own  burns  down,  he  can  soon  rent  another ;  if  all  burn  down, 
he  must  go  houseless.  The  destruction  of  a  single  cotton  fac 
tory  is  a  small  thing  to  any  individual  who  is  not  an  owner. 
But  the  total  loss  inflicted  on  the  world  is  about  as  great  as 
that  inflicted  on  the  owner,  since  the  production  of  cotton  is 
diminished  by  an  amount  equal  to  the  total  product  of  the 
factory. 

The  great  point  we  wish  kept  clearly  in  view  is  this :  while,  as 
has  been  already  shown,  capital  is  the  result  of  the  exercise  of 
individual  self-denial,  and  while  every  member  of  the  commu 
nity,  with  the  possible  exception  of  the  most  wealthy  capital 
ists,  has  an  interest  in  the  exercise  of  this  self-denial  on  the 
part  of  his  neighbors,  there  is  no  law  which  requires  that  exer 
cise.  Every  member  of  the  community  is  at  liberty  to  spend 
all  his  income  on  his  personal  wants,  and  so  do  nothing 
to  keep  the  public  from  that  destitution  which  is  the  neces 
sary  lot  of  an  improvident  people.  The  only  motive  he  has 
to  pursue  the  opposite  course  is  found,  as  we  have  seen, 
in  the  profit  or  interest  which  the  less  provident  or  less 
wealthy  members  of  the  community  are  always  ready  to 
pay  him  for  whatever  he  can  save.  Deprive  him  of  this, 
and  the  factories  may  decay,  the  spindles  wear  out,  and  the 
railroad  cease  its  operation.  We  need  say  nothing  more  to 
illustrate  the  fatuity  of  that  policy  which  would  reduce  the 
profits  on  capital  by  laws  or  industrial  combinations.  The  pol 
icy  of  giving  perfect  freedom  to  the  operation  of  the  law  of  sup 
ply  and  demand,  of  allowing  every  one  who  can  save  capital  to 
employ  it  in  the  most  profitable  way  he  can,  and  every  one  who 
desires  to  use  it  to  borrow  it  in  the  cheapest  market,  is  the 
easiest  and  best  solution  of  the  problem  of  dealing  with  capital. 

A  curious  fact  is  to  be  noted  in  this  connection.  The  hope 
of  profit  being  the  only  inducement  to  save  which  acts  on  the 
great  mass  of  mankind,  there  must  be  a  certain  minimum  rate 
below  which  saving  and  investment  will  not  be  generally  prac 
tised.  This  point,  wherever  it  is,  is  the  lowest  to  which  the 
rate  of  interest  can  fall.  The  lowest  average  rate  it  has  been 
actually  known  to  reach  for  any  considerable  period  is  about 
three  per  cent,  that  is,  such  a  rate  that  the  accumulated  inter 
est  will  equal  the  principal  in  about  thirty-three  years.  It  ap- 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  139 

pears,  therefore,  that,  so  far  as  the  experience  of  the  world  has 
yet  extended,  men  in  general  do  not  choose  to  make  invest 
ments  which  will  not  pay  for  themselves  out  of  the  profits  in 
thirty-three  years,  or  in  the  average  duration  of  the  life  of  the 
investor,  and  thus  that  providence  in  money  matters  does  not 
extend  far  beyond  the  life  of  the  individual. 

It  is  sometimes  claimed  that  the  great  improvement  in  the 
condition  of  the  laborer  within  the  past  century  is  due  to  com 
binations  and  strikes.  It  is  true  that  strikes  are  frequently 
successful  in  gaining  the  terms  demanded ;  but,  in  the  opinion 
of  the  soundest  thinkers,  any  terms  gained  by  a  strike  could 
have  been  gained  without  it,  only  perhaps  not  so  soon.  And 
the  grounds  for  this  opinion  seem  quite  tenable.  A  capitalist 
or  employer  will  not  be  able  to  pay  increased  wages,  unless  he 
is  making  more  than  the  usual  profit  in  his  business.  Other 
capitalists  will  then  be  ready  to  step  in  and  compete  with  him, 
and,  in  order  to  secure  a  profitable  business,  will  bid  higher  for 
labor.  This  competition  will  continue  until  the  wages  bid  will 
be  as  high  as  could  have  been  obtained  by  a  strike.  We  can 
therefore  -  say  this,  and  no  more,  for  strikes :  if  every  strike 
were  immediately  successful,  the  workmen  would  command  an 
increase  of  wages  sooner  than  if  they  had  not  struck. 

To  balance  the  account,  we  must  debit  the  striking  system 
with  what  it  costs  the  laborers  themselves.  Could  this  be  cal 
culated,  the  figures  would  excite  astonishment.  The  items 
would  be  divided  under  the  following  three  heads  :  — 

(1.)  The  money  cost  of  the  strike  shown  by  the  advances 
made  by  trades  unions  to  sustain  the  strikers.  There  are,  of 
course,  no  statistical  data  for  estimating  the  total  amount  thus 
expended,  but  it  probably  includes  a  large  fraction  of  the  con 
tributions  levied  by  the  unions  on  their  members. 

(2.)  The  loss  and  distress  to  the  strikers  arising  from  the 
absence  of  their  usual  wages  during  the  strike,  this  loss  being 
only  partly  made  up  by  the  contributions  just  mentioned.  These 
two  items  combined  make  the  sum-total  of  the  wages  during  the 
strike,  or  its  total  money  cost.  If  the  sufferings  frequently 
undergone  by  the  workmen  and  their  families  are  taken  into 
account,  it  will  be  conceded  that  the  mere  money  cost  of  the 
strike  does  not  give  any  adequate  idea  of  what  those  who  take 
part  in  it  undergo  to  enforce  their  rights. 


140  The  Labor  Question.  [July, 

(3.)  The  indirect  loss  to  the  entire  laboring  community 
arising  from  the  higher  price  and  greater  scarcity  of  the  arti 
cles  that  the  strikers  were  engaged  in  producing.  This  item 
might  be  a  large  or  a  small  one  according  as  these  articles  were 
mainly  consumed  by  the  poorer  or  the  more  wealthy  classes. 
In  the  former  case,  after  the  strikers  were  all  victorious,  they 
might  find  their  dearly  bought  increase  of  wages  entirely  ab 
sorbed  by  the  increased  cost  of  houses,  clothing,  and  food  aris 
ing  from  a  general  strike.  A  fair  balancing  of  the  account  will, 
we  conceive,  show  a  large  balance  against  the  strikes. 

We  have  endeavored  in  this  review  to  trace  the  efforts  of  the 
present  labor  organizations  to  their  ultimate  effect  upon  the  true 
interests  of  the  laboring  community.  We  have  found  that,  in 
stead  of  tending  to  improve  the  condition  of  the  laborer,  they 
tend  to  make  it  worse.  They  wage  war  against  capital' and  pro 
duction,  while  it  is  for  the  interest  of  the  laborer  that  both  shall 
be  increased  as  much  as  possible.  If  they  ever  succeed  in  get 
ting  a  general  increase  of  wages  it  is  at  great  cost,  and  is  then 
in  great  part  paid  out  of  their  own  pockets  in  the  form  of  an 
increased  cost  of  the  necessaries  of  life.  We  have  found  that 
the  restrictive  system  works  no  better  when  operated  by  a  vol 
untary  association  of  men  than  when  enforced  by  a  government. 
Having  thus  completed  the  thankless  task  of  showing  that  the 
laboring  classes  will  not  be  bettered  by  the  success  of  the  pres 
ent  labor  party,  let  us  next  inquire  how  their  condition  may  be 
improved. 

,  Taking  into  account  all  the  circumstances  of  the  problem,  we 
conceive  that  the  more  extended  introduction  of  the  system  of 
co-operation  is  the  most  practicable  method.  Under  this  system 
the  workmen  combine,  not  to  fight  the  employer,  but  to  com 
pete  with  him  on  his  own  ground.  If  they  can  command  the 
necessary  capital  they  dispense  with  the  services  of  the  employer 
entirely,  the  same  number  who  under  the  hiring  system  might 
be  working  for  one  employer  now  working  in  copartnership.  If 
the  business  requires  machinery  too  expensive  for  them  to  com 
mand  they  work  in  copartnership  with  the  capitalist,  receiving 
in  lieu  of  a  part  of  their  wages  a  share  in  the  profits.  A  remark 
able  instance  of  the  success  of  the  latter  plan  has  occurred  in 
South  Yorkshire,  England,  within  the  last  few  years.  The  col- 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  141 

liery  of  Briggs  &  Co.  had  been  peculiarly  unfortunate  in  its  rela 
tions  to  the  miners,  war  having  been  waged  for  years  by  strikes 
on  one  side  and  "lock-outs*'  on  the  other.  Mr.  Briggs  resolved 
to  try  an  experiment.  The  property  in  the  colliery,  valued  at 
<£  90,000,  was  divided  into  nine  thousand  shares  of  £  10  each, 
and  a  joint-stock  company  was  formed  on  this  basis.  Three 
thousand  shares  were  offered  to  the  miners  and  the  public.  To 
fix  the  share  of  the  workmen  in  the  profits,  an  imaginary  capital 
was  formed,  of  which  the  wages  of  the  workmen  were  considered 
as  the  interest.  The  rate  of  interest  to  be  allowed  on  both  the 
real  and  fictitious  capital  was  ten  per  cent ;  this  fictitious  capi 
tal  was,  therefore,  ten  times  the  annual  wages  of  the  workmen. 
Whatever  could  be  gained  above  the  interest  was  to  be  divided 
annually  between  the  workmen  and  the  shareholders  as  profits. 
If  the  proceeds  of  the  colliery  did  not  divide  ten  per  cent,  the 
loss  fell  entirely  on  the  owners  proper.  The  success  of  the 
project  was  almost  magical.  Every  miner,  now  feeling  himself 
a  stockholder,  exerted  himself  for  the  common  good.  For  two 
or  three  years  the  surplus  profits  sufficed  to  add  a  considerable 
percentage  to  the  wages  of  the  laborer,  as  well  as  to  form  & 
reserve  fund  against  a  time  of  business  depression.  Equally 
great  was  the  improvement  of  the  personal  relations  between 
the  laborers  and  the  owners.  The  former  sentiments  of  the 
laborers  were  expressed  by  the  declaration  of  one  of  their 
number  in  a  public  harangue,  that  "  Mr.  Briggs  wanted  only 
horns  and  hoofs  to  be  the  very  Devil."  With  the  success  of 
the  new  arrangement  the  opposite  sentiment  was  expressed  in 
nearly  as  extravagant  a  manner. 

We  are  far  from  maintaining  that  success  such  as  this,  or 
great  success  of  any  kind,  is  to  be  expected  as  a  general  rule. 
In  fact,  we  conceive  that  the  chief  danger  to  the  new  system 
comes  from  the  extravagant  expectations  of  its  ardent  friends. 
To  the  enthusiastic  reformer  no  movement  which  will  do  less 
than  revolutionize  society,  or  prove  an  infallible  panacea  for 
some  social  ill,  seems  worth  supporting.  Therefore,  having 
taken  up  the  plan  of  co-operation,  he  lauds  it  as  that  which 
may  put  every  workingman  on  the  high-road  to  wealth.  If 
the  projectors  set  out  with  such  an  idea  as  this  they  will  be 
sure  to  meet  with  disappointment.  To  guard  against  this 


142  The  Labor  Question.  [July* 

misfortune,  our  inquiry  into  what  good  may  be  effected  by 
co-operation  must  be  prefaced  by  some  statements  of  what 
co-operation  will  not  succeed  in  doing. 

No  system  yet  discovered  will  lead  to  that  Utopia  of  the 
labor  reformers,  in  which  every  workman  in  the  land  shall 
indulge  himself  in  the  daily  consumption  of  commodities 
requiring  two  days'  labor  to  produce.  No  community  will 
ever  enjoy  more  or  better  houses  than  can  be  built  and  kept 
in  repair  by  its  bricklayers  and  carpenters,  better  clothes  than 
can  be  made  by  its  op3iatives  and  tailors,  or  more  food  than 
can  be  produced  by  its  farmers.  Labor  will  never  effect  any 
thing  without  capital,  and  it  will  never  command  capital  with 
out  paying  for  it,  either  directly  or  indirectly.  The  combined 
efforts  of  labor  and  capital  will  effect  no  more  than  they  now 
do,  unless  the  laborer  works  with  more  steadiness,  and  prac 
tises  more  economy  than  now.  Until  these  efforts  are  more 
effective,  the  laborer  will  enjoy  no  more  wealth  than  now. 

To  see  what  a  co-operative  association  cannot  do  in  a  partic 
ular  case,  let  us  consider  the  management  of  a  printing-office. 
An  association  of  printers,  before  undertaking  such  an  enter 
prise,  will  wisely  inquire  into  the  amount  of  money  yielded  by 
such  an  office  under  the  old  system,  and  the  distribution  of 
that  money  among  the  several  parties  interested  in  the  office. 
The  result  may  be  put  into  such  a  form  as  the  following :  — 

In  a  well-managed  Office. 

Total  sum  received  for  printing      ....         $100,000 

Wages  paid  printers  and  laborers       .         .  $  70,000 

Services  of  proof-readers        .         .         .  5,000 

Loss  and  wear  of  type,      ....  3,000 

Wear  and  tear  of  machinery,  etc.  .         .  4,000 

Rent  of  office   ...        •       •-         •         •  10,000 

Office  expenses  and   small   losses  arising 

from  bad  management      .         .         .  1,000 

Manager's  and  capitalist's  profit         .         .  7,000 

$  100,000 

In  a  badly  managed  office  the  receipts  will  be  a  little  less, 
and  the  items  of  loss  and  wear  of  type  and  machinery  a  little 
greater,  while  the  small  losses  will  be  largely  increased.  The 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  143 

difference  may  not  only  absorb  the  $  7,000  profit,  but  may 
make  the  office  lose  money. 

If  the  printers  themselves  run  the  office ,  they  will  have  this 
prospect  before  them.  If  they  work  no  more  effectively  than 
before,  they  will  be  able  to  earn  only  the  f 100,000.  Out  of 
this  they  will  have  to  pay  the  same  amounts  as  the  capitalist 
for  the  services  of  proof-readers,  the  wages  of  foreman,  the 
wear  of  type  and  of  machinery,  and  the  rent  of  office ;  for 
we  may  be  sure  that  he  got  everything  at  the  cheapest  rate. 
Subtract  these  expenses  from  the  gross  receipts,  and  the  share 
left  for  the  society  will  vary  between  $  70,000  and  $  77,000,  ac 
cording  to  their  managing  ability.  Out  of  this  they  must  still 
pay  the  interest  of  borrowed  capital,  which  may  absorb  what 
was  before  the  profit  of  the  capitalist.  Therefore,  unless  the 
society  possesses  the  business  ability  to  manage  the  establish 
ment  well,  the  receipts  of  the  individual  members  may  easily 
be  less  than  under  the  wages  system.  If  this  is  the  only  result 
of  the  change  of  system,  to  what  advantage,  it  may  be  asked,  can 
the  co-operative  system  lead  ?  If  the  laborer,  working  as  indus 
triously  as  now,  and  spending  as  much  on  his  wants  as  now,  can 
reap  no  advantage,  why  propose  the  change  ? 

It  must  be  admitted  that  no  advantage  whatever  will  follow, 
as  a  matter  of  course.  The  gain  is  not  necessary  and  direct, 
but  mainly  incidental,  indirect,  and  dependent  on  accidental 
circumstances.  "We  have  seen  that  the  frequent  cessations  of 
labor  from  disagreements  between  the  workmen  and  their  em 
ployers  about  the  rate  of  wages  is  a  source  of  loss  to  all  parties 
by  diminishing  the  supply  and  increasing  the  price  of  those  pro 
ducts  the  workmen  who  have  become  idle  might  be  producing, 
as  well  as  causing  the  latter  the  loss  of  wages  during  the  term 
of  disagreement.  Under  the  new  system  there  would  be  no 
such  disagreements,  unless  the  co-operative  association  should 
refuse  to  work  for  such  prices  as  the  public  might  be  able  and 
willing  to  pay.  Such  a  course  would  seldom  or  never  be  re 
sorted  to,  because  its  injurious  effects  would  have  become  more 
obvious  than  when  the  members  were  working  for  an  employer, 
and  also  because,  being  capitalists  as  well  as  laborers,  they  would 
sustain  the  loss  upon  idle  capital  as  well  as  that  upon  idle  labor. 
The  producers  being  always  at  work  for  the  public  on  the  best 


144  The  Labor  Question.  [July? 

terms  they  could  command,  their  products  would  be  cheaper 
and  more  abundant,  which  would  be  for  the  advantage  of  the 
public,  and  the  price  of  the  product  being  varied  to  meet  the 
varying  demand,  the  latter  would  be  kept  up,  and  the  producers 
would  always  find  employment,  which  would  be  in  like  manner 
fpr  their  advantage. 

The  steady  employment  of  every  producer  in  the  way  most 
advantageous  for  production  being  the  first  object  of  every  wise 
system  of  labor,  it  may  be  advisable  to  glance  at  some  causes 
which  interfere  with  its  attainment,  and  to  show  that  they 
will  not  operate  so  strongly  under  the  system  of  co-operation. 
Prominent  among  these  causes  is  a  certain  benevolent  trait  in 
human  nature  itself,  which  makes  it  repugnant  to  our  feelings 
to  "  drive  a  hard  bargain  "  with  one  whose  services  we  desire. 
If  we  felt  equal  repugnance  in  refusing  his  services  entirely 
this  trait  would  be  less  injurious  in  its  effects.  Unfortunately, 
such  is  not  the  case.  An  employer  feels  no  compunction  in 
telling  a  workman  he  has  no  occasion  for  his  services,  however 
great  the  needs  of  the  workman  may  be.  So  he  will  sometimes 
refuse  to  employ  him,  when,  by  employing  him  at  less  than  the 
regular  wages,  a  bargain  advantageous  to  both  parties  might  be 
made.  The  consequence  is  that  the  workman  is  driven  to  seek 
employment  of  some  one  who  has  no  compunction  in  employing 
him  on  the  hardest  terms  to  which  his  necessities  may  compel 
him  to  submit.  Thus,  in  our  cities  when  business  in  a  trade  is 
very  dull,  it  sometimes  happens  that  the  more  needy  workmen 
in  that  trade  are  employed  by  the  less  reputable  class  of  em 
ployers  at  half  the  usual  wages,  and  large  numbers  of  others 
are  out  of  employment,  when  employment  could  be  found  by 
all,  if  their  wages  were  reduced  one  fifth. 

It  may  be  asked,  Does  not  this  very  state  of  things  show  the 
expediency  of  having  a  fixed  rate  of  wages  for  each  class  of 
workmen,  from  which  none  shall  depart  ?  We  reply  yes,  if 
that  rate  is  always  adjusted  to  the  varying  state  of  the  market. 
When  the  demand  for  laborers  of  any  particular  class  falls  off, 
their  true  interest,  or,  to  speak  more  precisely,  the  true  interest 
of  the  laboring  classes  generally,  will  be  found  in  a  voluntary 
reduction  of  the  rate  of  wages  of  the  particular  class  referred 
to.  When  the  demand  is  restored  the  rate  should  be  increased 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  145 

again.  The  criterion  by  which  to  determine  that  the  true  rate 
is  fixed  is,  that  all  who  desire  work  at  the  fixed  rate  shall  be 
able  to  find  it ;  in  other  words,  that  the  demand  shall  be  made 
to  correspond  with  the  supply.  We  say,  all  who  desire  work ; 
because,  if  any  one  conceives  the  wages  too  low  to  make  it  for 
his  individual  interest  to  accept  them,  it  is  his  right  to  refuse, 
and  either  remain  idle  until  the  demand  is  restored,  or  to  enter 
some  other  employment. 

Under  the  system  of  working  for  hire  such  an  adjustment 
would  be  subject  to  the  inconvenience  that  in  many  cases  a 
reduction  of  wages  would  inure  entirely  to  the  benefit  of  con 
tractors,  and  a  rise  of  wages  would  come  entirely  out  of  their 
pockets.  In  our  cities  contracts  for  building  are  usually  con 
cluded  in  the  spring,  though  they  may  not  be  filled  until  au 
tumn  or  later.  Indeed,T  whenever  made,  they  must  be  founded 
on  an  estimate  of  the  price  of  labor  several  months  in  advance, 
and  if  this  estimate  proves  erroneous,  the  contractor  is  generally 
the  sole  gainer  or  the  sole  sufferer.  Now,  as  we  have  already 
shown,  when  each  laborer,  or  association  of  laborers,  sells  its  pro 
ducts  in  the  public  market  on  the  most  advantageous  terms,  all 
the  inconveniences  attending  the  alteration  and  adjustment  of 
the  rate  of  wages  are  avoided. 

Another  incidental  advantage  of  the  co-operative  system  is 
the  stimulus  it  will  necessarily  give  to  the  cultivation  of  econ 
omy  and  business  habits  on  the  part  of  the  workmen  engaged 
in  it.  The  want  of  business  ability  xm  the  part  of  the  laboring 
classes  is  perhaps  the  most  serious  obstacle  in  the  way  of  the 
new  system.  Indeed,  it  might  be  argued  with  great  force  that 
its  general  introduction  into  this  country  is  impracticable  for 
this  very  reason.  It  might  be  said  that  our  people  are  so  ver 
satile,  the  field  for  the  employment  of  skill  and  capital  so  large, 
and  the  opportunities  of  becoming  an  employer  of  labor  so  nu 
merous,  that  no  one  possessed  of  the  ability  to  manage  any  busi 
ness  need  remain  a  laborer  for  hire.  Consequently,  the  very 
fact  that  one  belongs  to  the  latter  class  is  evidence  that  he 
does  not  possess  business  ability,  and  it  is  useless  to  expect 
skilful  business  management  on  the  part  of  any  association 
of  laborers  for  hire. 

If  the  premises  of  this  argument  are  granted,  the  conclusion 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  10 


146  The  Labor  Question.  [July? 

is  unavoidable.  But  the  question  whether  there  is  any  latent 
managing  ability  on  the  part  of  our  laborers  is  one  that  can  be 
decided  only  by  trial.  The  data  for  forming  an  intelligent  judg 
ment  of  the  question  are  extremely  meagre.  Strange  as  it  may 
appear,  the  seeker  after  such  knowledge  finds  it  much,  easier 
to  inform  himself  of  the  condition  and  doings  of  the  laboring 
classes  of  England  and  Germany,  and  even  of  France,  than  of 
those  of  our  own  country.  Within  the  last  few  years  a  great 
many  books  have  appeared  in  Europe,  giving  detailed  accounts 
of  the  labor  organizations  in  those  countries,  their  efforts  and 
their  prospects.  A  commission  to  inquire  into  this  subject 
was  appointed  by  the  British  Parliament,  and  its  report  may 
be  considered  as  exhausting  the  subject,  so  far  as  the  facts 
are  concerned.  In  this  country  we  have  nothing,  or  next  to 
nothing,  in  a  permanent  form.  We  have  labor  unions  in  all 
our  principal  cities,  but  of  the  details  of  their  organization  and 
internal  management  the  public  knows  nothing.  They  are 
rarely  heard  of  except  when  some  agitating  subject,  like  a  strike 
or  the  admission  of  a  colored  member,  is  under  discussion,  and 
when  the  subject  is  disposed  of  they  again  fall  back  into  ob 
scurity.  A  few  years  since  the  Congress  of  the  United  States 
enacted  a  law  that  eight  hours  should  be  a  legal  day's  work  for 
laborers  in  the  employ  of  the  government,  but  for  what  reason 
can  only  be  guessed  at.  A  search  through  the  Congressional 
Globe  for  the  speeches  made  on  the  occasion  would  probably 
lead  to  no  information  more  satisfactory,  and  to  no  better  rea 
son,  than  that  eight  hours  is  enough  for  a  man  to  work. 

With  a  field  so  uncertain  to  work  in,  it  is  all-important  that 
the  first  trials  of  the  system  of  co-operation  shall  be  made  in 
those  branches  of  business  which  require  the  least  amount  of 
business  ability  or  of  special  training.  Such  are  most  of  the 
mechanical  trades  in  which  the  chief  value  of  the  thing  produced 
arises  from  the  labor  expended  on  it  by  a  single  set  of  mechanics. 
In  the  manufacture  of  the  coarser  articles  of  furniture,  for  in 
stance,  the  business  could  be  successfully  conducted  without 
much  training ;  the  skill  principally  required  being  that  of  the 
mechanic  himself,  and  the  amount  of  capital  to  be  invested  in 
raw  material  being  so  small  that  fluctuations  in  price  would  not 
be  ruinous  to  the  producer.  Not  dissimilar  are  most  of  the 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  147 

branches  of  house-building.  In  building  a  house  one  must  now 
employ  at  least  five  contractors,  the  bricklayer,  carpenter,  paint 
er,  plasterer,  and  plumber.  The  principal  business  of  each  con 
tractor,  as  such,  is  to  s.ee  that  his  men  do  their  work  properly. 
Why  should  not  the  services  of  four  out  of  the  five  be  dispensed 
with,  and  the  responsibility  for  the  general  excellence  of  the 
work  rest  upon  a  single  contractor,  the  workmen  themselves, 
under  a  supervision  of  their  own  choice,  being  trusted  for  the 
proper  execution  of  the  details  ?  Only  because  now  there  is  no 
trustworthy  association  among  the  workmen,  and  the  latter  are 
in  this  respect  profoundly  indifferent  to  their  own  interests.  The 
present  unions  are  organized  on  the  idea  that  they  are  exclu 
sively  laborers  for  hire,  and  discourage  rather  than  encourage 
any  such  independent  action  as  that  which  we  have  spoken  of. 

The  business  of  buying  and  selling  is  the  least  favorable  for 
the  introduction  of  co-operation,  because  capital  and  business 
skill  are  the  principal  requisites  to  success,  and  mere  labor, 
skilled  or  unskilled,  an  element  of  comparatively  little  impor 
tance.  Ttye  brilliant  success  of  the  Rockdale  co-operative  store 
proves  nothing  except  what  may  be  accomplished  by  industry, 
frugality,  and  good  management  under  favorable  circumstances. 
We  hear  of  the  successes  of  such  attempts,  but  not  of  the  failures. 
Many  years  ago  the  system  was  tried  in  Massachusetts  on  a  large 
scale,  under  the  very  common  impression  that  the  retail  grocers 
were  making  enormous  profits,  and  that  the  consumers  could  save 
a  large  part  of  the  profits  by  having  "  union  stores'*  of  their  own. 
The  success  of  the  attempt  was  anything  but  brilliant.  We  have 
no  statistics  from  which  to  draw  an  accurate  conclusion,  but  we 
believe  the  cases  of  failure  were  far  more  numerous  than  those 
in  which  more  than  ordinary  business  profits  were  made. 

The  fact  is  that  in  these  schemes,  and  in  most  schemes  of  trad 
ing  now  urged  upon  the  working  classes,  the  mistake  is  made 
of  aiming  at  two  objects,  which  have  no  necessary  connection 
with  one  another.  These  are,  buying  and  selling  for  a  profit  by 
dealing  with  the  general  public,  and  supplying  the  members 
themselves  with  goods  at  a  rate  cheaper  than  that  at  which 
they  now  purchase  by  retail.  The  proposed  mode  of  carrying 
out  these  objects  is  to  set  up  a  store,  owned  by  a  large  associa 
tion,  for  the  sale  of  goods  to  members  of  the  association  and 


148  The  Labor  Question.  [July, 

to  the  public.  If  the  members  receive  no  favors  in  dealing 
with  it,  which  is  the  proper  course,  the  profits  will  be  the  same 
as  in  the  case  of  a  similar  store  equally  well  managed  by  a 
private  individual.  But  such  a  store  does  not,  on  the  average, 
yield  more  than  the  regular  profit  on  capital,  the  owner  some 
times  failing  entirely,  sometimes  making  a  moderate  profit,  and 
sometimes  growing  rich,  according  to  his  judgment  and  skill  in 
managing  his  business.  Therefore,  to  succeed,  the  association 
must  exercise  this  judgment  'and  skill  in  the  same  degree  with 
the  regular  dealer.  If  the  members  receive  favors,  the  cost  of 
these  favors  will  necessarily  come  out  of  the  profits  to  be  di 
vided,  thus  diminishing  them,  and  increasing  the  chance  of  fail 
ure.  Accordingly,  the  establishment  of  co-operative  stores  can 
not  result  in  supplying  an  association  with  cheap  goods,  unless 
in  very  unusual  cases.  It  is  simply  an  attempt  to  do  by  a 
large  association  what  can  be  better  done  by  an  individual. 

If  we  compare  the  wholesale  and  retail  prices  of  the  same 
goods  in  the  same  market,  we  shall  frequently  find  a  difference 
which  seems  quite  unreasonable.  Iri  the  cases  of  books  and 
market  produce  the  retail  price  exceeds  the  wholesale  by  from 
thirty  to  sixty,  and  even  one  hundred  per  cent.  It  may  well 
be  asked,  Is  there  no  way  in  which  the  poor  can  supply  them 
selves  with  articles  of  daily  consumption  at  something  near 
wholesale  prices  ?  Undoubtedly,  if  they  will  take  the  proper 
course.  To  judge  what  is  the  proper  course  it  is  necessary  to 
know  the  cause  of  the  evil.  If  we  inquire  into  this  cause,  we 
shall  find  that  the  advance  of  the  retail  on  the  wholesale  price 
is  what  is  paid  by  the  consumer  for  certain  advantages  and 
accommodations,  namely,  the  privilege  of  getting  his  goods,  — 

(1.)   At  any  time  that  he  may  want  them ; 

(2.)   In  any  quantity  that  he  may  desire ; 

(3.)    Of  any  quality  that  he  may  desire  ; 

(4.)   At  some  convenient  place  ; 

(5.)   On  credit,  when  he  desires  it. 

To  fulfil  the  first  condition  it  is  necessary  to  maintain  a 
supply  of  goods,  and  to  have  some  one  to  attend  to  them.  This 
costs  interest  on  the  investment  in  goods,  rent  of  building, 
insurance  against  fire,  water,  and  burglars,  and  wages  of  store 
keeper.  The  second  condition  involves  the  labor  of  measuring 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  149 

or  weighing  the  goods  in  parcels  to  suit  purchasers,'  and  a  cer 
tain  amount  of  waste.  The  third  condition  requires  that  the 
supply  should  be  very  large  and  varied,  in  order  that  every  one 
shall  be  able  to  suit  himself.  A  large  and  expensive  store  is 
therefore  necessary,  and  a  large  amount  of  labor  has  to  be  ex 
pended  in  showing  the  goods  to  customers.  The  fourth  condi 
tion  requires  the  store  to  be  situated  in  some  place  where  rents 
are  exceptionally  high.  The  fifth  condition  involves  a  risk  of 
bad  debts,  which  must  be  met  by  an  addition  to  the  price  of 
the  goods.  The  necessary  cost  of  fulfilling  these  different  con 
ditions  makes  up  the  entire  difference  between  the  wholesale 
and  retail  prices.  Consequently  the  only  way  to  get  goods 
cheaper  than  under  the  present  system  is  to  give  up  some  or 
all  of  the  accommodations  which  that  system  is  designed  to  se 
cure  us.  The  store  and  storekeeper  must  be  dispensed  with 
entirely.  The  members  of  the  association  must  agree  upon 
some  particular  designation  or  quality  of  goods,  with  which  all 
are  to  be  satisfied  ;  they  must  contribute  cash  for  the  purchase 
in  advance ;  and  when  the  goods  arrive  in  bulk  they  must  di 
vide  them,  among  themselves.  If  there  is  anything  impracti 
cable  in  such  a  plan  of  operation,  it  is  simply  that  human 
nature  will  not  permit  men  to  submit  to  all  these  restrictions, 
and  that  the  difficulty  of  agreeing  upon  any  definite  quantity  of 
a  designated  article  would  be  insurmountable,  or  at  least  would 
cost  more  to  surmount  than  the  system  would  save.  The  ques 
tion  of  practicability  can  be  settled  only  by  actual  trial. 

We  cannot  expect  much  from  the  co-operative  system  unless 
it  shall  include  the  employer  as  well  as  the  laborer  in  its  asso 
ciations,  and  thus  command  capital  and  skill  as  well  as  mere 
labor.  The  case  of  the  Briggs  Colliery,  already  cited,  furnishes 
an  example  of  the  success  of  this  plan.  We  see  no  reason, 
even  in  human  nature,  that  foe  of  ideal  perfection,  why  the 
capitalist,  the  master-workman,  and  the  laborers  should  not 
work  together  as  members  of  a  co-operative  union.  The  la 
borers  would  then  have  an  opportunity  to  learn  something 
about  business,  and  to  acquire  business  habits  in  all  cases  where 
such  habits  were  possible.  The  nature,  duration,  and  condi 
tions  of  the  associations  should  be  determined  by  the  exigen 
cies  of  each  particular  case,  and  the  few  general  rules  which 


150  The  Labor  Question.  [July? 

can  be  laid  down  respecting  them  are  mainly  negative.  Among 
the  most  important  is  this,  —  no  restrictions  should  be  placed  on 
the  independent  action  of  each  association.  The  members  of 
each  association  should  be  allowed  to  work  six,  eight,  ten,  or 
twelve  hours  per  day,  according  to  their  individual  necessities, 
or  the  briskness  of  the  demand  for  labor.  When  the  different 
members  of  any  one  association  chose  different  hours  of  labor, 
each  should  share  in  the  proceeds  in  proportion  to  the  amount 
of  labor  he  furnishes.  When  the  demand  for  labor  is  unusu 
ally  great,  and  the  price  which  can  be  obtained  unusually  high, 
the  members  will  naturally  work  harder  than  when  the  oppo 
site  is  the  case,  and  they  will  thus  provide  themselves  with 
means  to  meet  the  recurrence  of  dull  times.  Instead  of  having 
every  workman  bound  down  to  an  invariable  standard,  which 
has  no  connection  with  his  necessities  or  the  state  of  the  labor 
market,  each  will  be  nearly  as  independent  as  if  working  ex 
clusively  on  his  own  account. 

The  unavoidable  conclusion  of  our  extended  inquiry  into  the 
existing  state  of  things  is  that  no  sudden  and  universal  improve 
ment  in  the  condition  of  the  laboring  classes  is  possible.  But 
it  does  not  follow  that  there  is  nothing  to  be  done  by  those  who 
have  the  interests  of  the  laborers  at  heart.  If  no  sudden  im 
provement  is  possible,  a  gradual  one  may  be.  If  we  compare 
the  comforts  enjoyed  by  every  class  of  society  now  with  those 
which  were  possessed  a  hundred  years  ago,  we  shall  see  an  im 
mense  improvement.  With  the  increase  of  the  means  of  pro 
duction,  and  the  opening  of  new  fields  of  industry,  we  may 
hope  for  continued  progress  in  the  same  direction.  But  we 
must  not  disguise  the  fact  that  there  is  another  cause  which 
not  only  tends  to  retard  this  progress,  but  operates  in  the  con 
trary  direction.  We  refer  to  the  necessary  diminution  in  the 
supply  of  certain  of  the  raw  materials  necessary  to  production. 

If  we  trac,e  back  the  steps  in  the  production  of  any  article  of 
utility,  we  shall  find  ourselves  ultimately  dependent  on  certain 
natural  agencies  and  materials  for  all  our  means  of  subsistence. 
Such  are  the  heat  and  light  of  the  sun,  the  soil  which  furnishes 
the  growth  of  the  vegetable  world,  the  rocks  and  minerals  hid 
den  in  the  earth,  the  streams  which  flow  over  its  surface.  De 
prived  of  these,  the  human  race  would  cease  to  exist.  Now, 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  151 

when  we  enter  upon  a  close  inquiry,  we  find  that  while  certain  of 
these  agencies  are  unlimited  in  amount,  and  equally  free  to  all, 
there  are  others  of  which  the  supply  is  limited,  or  of  which  all 
cannot  equally  avail  themselves.  The  heat  and  light  of  the  sun, 
for  instance,  belong  to  the  first  class.  But  there  are  only  fifty 
millions  of  square  miles  of  land  on  the  surface  of  the  globe,  and 
the  surface  of  productive  soil  is  much  smaller.  In  a  densely 
populated  community  the  amount  of  land  within  reach  of  any  one 
individual  is  very  small  indeed.  Again,  navigable  rivers  run 
by  the  doors  of  very  few.  The  total  amount  of  water-power  in 
any  State  of  the  Union  is  extremely  small,  while  coal,  iron, 
lead,  and  copper  are  found  only  in  certain  favored  localities. 

The  inevitable  consequence  of  this  state  of  things  is  a  con 
tinual  diminution,  as  population  increases,  of  the  amount  of  these 
agencies  which  is  at  the  command  of  each  individual.  If  this 
were  all,  it  would  affect  all  classes  nearly  alike.  But  it  is  well 
known  that  these  materials  and  agencies,  as  fast  as  they  become 
available,  are  in  the  main  appropriated  by  individuals,  through 
the  agency  or  consent  of  government,  and  are  then  held  as  pri 
vate  property.  Such  is  the  case  with  the  soil  and  the  minerals 
beneath  it.  The  owners  of  this  property  charge  as  much  for  the 
use  of  it  as  if  it  were  their  own  creation,  and  not  that  of  nature. 
The  price  thus  charged,  termed  "  Rent "  by  the  English  econo 
mists,  necessarily  increases  with  the  increase  of  population.  In 
England,  where  nearly  all  the  land  is  held  by  a  small  fraction  of 
the  population,  rent  is  an  important  element  in  the  cost  of  that 
portion  of  the  food  of  the  people  which  is  raised  in  that  country. 
Against  this  policy  the  laboring  class  has  reasonable  ground  of 
complaint.  The  doctrine  that  the  soil  is  of  natural  right  the 
common  property  of  the  human  race,  and  that  each  individual 
should  be  allowed  to  enjoy  his  share,  is  now  tacitly  admitted  by 
many  eminent  economists  of  England  and  France.  If  this  right 
could  be  enforced,  the  rent  of  all  the  land  of  any  country  — 
England,  for  instance  —  would  be  divided  among  the  inhabi 
tants,  and  the  poorer  classes  would  be  made  wealthier  by  the 
amount  thus  distributed.  It  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  the 
right  here  referred  to  is  only  that  to  the  soil  itself,  in  a  state  of 
nature,  and  not  to  the  improvements  which  have  been  made  by 
labor.  Unfortunately,  the  soil  and  the  improvements  are  practi- 


152  The  Labor  Question.  [July, 

cally  inseparable.  It  has  even  been  claimed  by  some  that  the 
soil  never  has  any  value  apart  from  the  improvements,  —  a 
proposition  which  can  be  accepted  as  true,  we  conceive,  only 
through  a  misunderstanding,  of  the  question.  That  lands  on 
which  the  owners  have  never  bestowed  a  day's  labor  are 
every  day  sold  at  prices  ranging  from  $1.25  per  acre  to  $10 
per  foot ;  that  every  portion  of  land  brought  into  market  is 
owned  by  some  one  to  the  exclusion  of  every  one  else  ;  that 
the  number  of  acres  is  limited  by  Nature  herself ;  and  that  the 
productiveness  of  land  is  not  proportional  to  the  labor  expended 
on  its  improvement,  are  incontrovertible  propositions. 

In  view  of  these  facts,  and  of  the  importance  of  land  to  the 
future  laborer,  our  laboring  classes  have  just  cause  of  complaint 
in  the  wasteful  spirit  with  which  Congress  is  always  ready  to 
"donate"  the  public  lands  to  railroad  corporations.  Since  the 
decadence  of  the  whiskey  ring,  the  railroad  rings  are  perhaps 
the  most  powerful  in  Washington.  Their  relative  success  illus 
trates  that  peculiar  feature  of  congressional  political  economy 
which  encourages  enterprises  in  proportion  to  their  inability  to 
pay.  For  many  years  past  Congress  has  been  besieged  for 
authority  to  build  a  railroad  from  Washington  to  New  York, 
no  charge  whatever  being  made  for  the  service.  The  projectors 
have  hitherto  been  successfully  opposed,  really  on  the  ground 
that  the  usefulness  of  the  road  would  be  so  great  that  the  own 
ers  would  make  an  inordinate  profit.  On  the  other  hand,  a  com 
pany  proposing  to  build  a  road  in  the  new  States  can  get  a  bonus 
of  a  thousand  acres  of  the  public  lands  for  every  mile  or  two  of 
road  built,  by  simply  trying  to  show  that  otherwise  their  road 
will  not  pay  for  itself.  In  every  such  gift  the  government  parts 
with  what  may  be  of  the  utmost  importance  to  the  laboring 
classes  in  future  generations.  While  we  cannot  agree  with  the 
extreme  views  of  those  who  would  give  every  one  a  free  home 
stead,  and  make  it  inalienable,  we  do  hold  that  Congress  should 
do  everything  in  its  power  to  prevent  the  aggregation  of  immense 
landed  estates  in  the  hands  of  individuals  or  of  corporations. 

In  the  course  of  this  review  we  have  glanced  at  some  of  the 
efforts  now  making  by  the  laboring  classes  to  improve  their 
condition.  We  have  shown  wherein  some  must  fail,  and 
pointed  out  the  obstacles  which  stand  in  the  way  of  the  best- 


1870.]  The  Labor  Question.  153 

directed  efforts.  The  thoughtful  reader  will  not  fail  to  notice 
that  the  most  serious  obstacle  was  found  in  human  nature  it 
self,  and  this  in  the  nature  of  the  laborer  himself,  rather  than  in 
that  of  the  men  with  whom  he  has  to  deal.  We  have  no  diffi 
culty  in  showing  how  every  other  obstacle  may  be  removed. 
The  secret  of  success  lies  in  organizing  the  labor  of  all  who  in 
any  way  work  together  so  as  to  make  their  combined  efforts 
the  most  effective  possible.  But  if  they  do  not  know  how  to 
organize  successfully,  it  is  useless  to  make  the  effort.  The 
general  intellectual  improvement  of  the  laboring  classes  is 
therefore  the  first  condition  of  their  physical  improvement.  It 
may  be  said  that  this  is  one  reason  for  lessening  their  hours  of 
labor,  since  the  fewer  hours  they  are  engaged  in  physical  exer 
tion,  the  more  energy  they  will  have  left  for  mental  improve 
ment.  Unfortunately,  it  is  only  in  rare  and  exceptional  cases 
that  an  uneducated  man  can  be  educated  intellectually.  He 
may  learn  a  great  deal,  but  learning  is  not  education.  The 
mode  of  thought  of  nearly  every  human  being  is  fixed  before 
he  attains- his  majority,  and  a  correct  mode  of  thought  is  the 
very  thing  which  is  wanted.  There  is,  besides,  no  reasonable 
probability  that  a  mechanic  who  does  not  improve  himself  in 
tellectually  when  working  ten  hours  per  day  will  succeed  any 
better  when  his  hours  of  labor  are  reduced  to  eight.  It  is  a  signi 
ficant  fact  that  it  is  only  in  Germany^ —  the  country  which  enjoys 
the  best  system  of  universal  education  —  that  the  co-operative 
system  has  ever  gained  much  ground,  or  been  generally  suc'cess- 
ful.  In  France  fully  half  the  attempts  have  been  failures. 

One  important  want  is  the  introduction  into  our  public 
schools  of  the  study  of  political  economy.  We  do  not  mean 
the  science  as  developed  by  McCulloch  and  Mill,  but  the  ele 
mentary  principles  which  may  be  illustrated  by  the  facts  of 
e very-day  life.  The  views  of  the  pupil  should  be  so  expanded 
that  he  can  see  the  fallacies  of  that  popular  system  of  political 
economy  which  seems  to  grow  in  every  uneducated  mind  as  nat 
urally  as  does  the  notion  that  the  earth  is  flat  and  immovable. 
The  works  of  Bastiat  contain  an  admirable  and,  we  regret  to  say, 
unique  collection  of  illustrations  of  those  fallacies.  In  the  ab 
sence  of  any  work  designed  for  common  schools  we  may  cite 
some  principles  which  we  conceive  capable  of  being  taught  to 


154  The  Labor  Question. 

the  majority  of  youth.  Half  at  least  of  the  boys  between  the 
ages  of  fifteen  and  twenty  might  be  made  to  see  that  the  com 
munity  is  a  co-operative  association  in  which  each  one,  while 
having  only  his  own  good  in  view,  does  still  work  for  every 
one  else  ;  that  labor  is  the  only  source  of  wealth  ;  that  the 
amount  of  wealth  which  the  community  enjoys  can  be  in 
creased  only  by  increasing  the  amount  or  the  effectiveness  of 
labor  ;  that  the  money  paid  for  every  product  of  labor  is 
divided  among  those  producers  ;  that  the  income  of  every 
member  of  the  community  is  equally  spent  in  giving  employ 
ment  to  others,  whether  he  be  a  spendthrift  or  a  miser,  wheth 
er  the  immediate  object  of  expenditure  be  clothing  or  bank- 
stock  ;  that  the  man  of  wealth,  when  he  invests  his  money,  em 
ploys  it  in  the  way  most  advantageous  to  the  laboring  poor.  A 
large  proportion  might  be  carried  a  little  further,  so  as  to  see 
some  of  the  relations  between  capital  and  labor,  and  some  of 
the  causes  of  the  great  inequality  in  the  wealth  of  individuals. 
The  notion  that  the  capitalist  takes  what  belongs  to  the  laborer 
might  also  be  met  by  showing  that  the  latter  is  quite  at  liberty 
to  dispense  with  the  help  of  the  former,  and  that  it  was  only 
because  the  former  chose  to  save  his  money  that  he  became  able 
to  employ  labor  at  all.  The  necessity  of  skill  and  knowledge 
to  organize  labor  and  make  it  effective,  and  the  rightfulness  of 
allowing  the  possessors  of  that  knowledge  and  skill  to  get 
whatever  share  they  are  able  of  the  profit  which  comes  from 
them,  and  the  impossibility  of  their  getting  more  than  the 
benefit  they  themselves  confer  might  complete  the  course. 

These  principles,  we  repeat,  seem  to  us  capable  of  compre 
hension  by  youths  whose  minds  are  not  preoccupied  by  false 
theories.  Those  who  do  master  them  would  be  able  to  judge 
better  of  the  action  and  the  capacities  of  the  social,  wealth-pro 
ducing  machinery  of  the  country  than  the  majority  even  of  our 
legislators  now  are.  We  are  aware  that  it  is  the  fashion  to 
decry  all  such  instruction  on  the  ground  that  it  is  of  no  practi 
cal  use.  We  believe,  on  the  contrary,  that  instruction  in  gen 
eral  principles,  irrespective  of  any  special  application,  is  just 
that  which  is  most  needed.  It  is  about  these  mainly  that  men 
differ.  What  makes  the  difference  between  a  Republican  and 
a  Democrat,  between  a  free-trader  and  a  protectionist  ?  Is  it 


1870.]  Chaucer.  155 

that  the  one  possesses  any  practical  knowledge  of  facts,  or  any 
practical  experience  in  life  which  the  other  does  not  ?  Clearly 
not.  The  difference  between  them  lies  much  deeper,  and  is  to 
be  looked  for  in  their  general  views  of  the  principles  of  social 
organization  and  the  objects  and  effects  of  industrial  activity. 
What  makes  the  proposed  instruction  more  necessary  is  that 
each  one  conceives  the  general  principles  from  which  he  rea 
sons  so  obvious  that  he  seldom  or  never  takes  the  trouble  to  ex 
amine  them  critically.  Not  only  the  will,  but  even  the  power 
to  make  such  an  examination  seems  reserved  to  the  educated 
few.  Yet,  if  it  is  from  such  principles  that  the  great  differences 
of  opinion  flow,  all  discussion  which  is  not  directed  to  the  ex 
amination  of  these  must  fail  of  its  object.  It  is  therefore  only 
to  the  more  thorough  education  of  the  masses  in  such  general 
laws  of  wealth  as  those  which  we  have  pointed  out  that  we  can 
look  for  great  improvements  in  our  social  policy. 

SIMON  NEWCOMB. 


ART.  VII.  —  1.  Publications  of  the  Chaucer  Society.     London. 
1869-70. 

2.  Etude  sur  Gr.  Chaucer  consider  e  comme  imitateur  des  Trou- 
veres.     Par  E.  G.  SANDRAS,  Agr£ge  de  1'Universite'.     Paris  : 
Auguste  Dusand.     1859.     8vo.     pp.  298. 

3.  G-eoffrey  Chaucer  s  Canterbury  -G-eschichten,  uebersetzt  in  den 
Versmassen  der  Urschrift,  und  durch  Einleitung  und  Anmer- 
Tmngen  erldutert.      Von  WILHELM  HERTZBERG.      Hildburg- 
hausen.     1866.     12mo.     pp.  674. 

4.  Chaucer  in  Seinen  Beziehungen  zur  italienischen  Liter atur. 
Inaugural-Dissertation  zur  Erlangung  der  Doctorwilrde.     Von 
ALFONS  KISSNER.    Bonn.     1867.     8vo.    pp.  81. 

WILL  it  do  to  say  anything  more  about  Chaucer  ?  Can  any 
one  hope  to  say  anything,  not  new,  but 'even  fresh,  on  a  topic 
so  well  worn  ?  It  may  well  be  doubted  ;  and  yet  one  is  always 
the  better  for  a  walk  in  the  morning  air,  —  a  medicine  which 
may  be  taken  over  and  over  again  without  any  sense  of 
sameness,  or  any  failure  of  its  invigorating  quality.  There  is 


156  Chaucer.  [July? 

a  pervading  wholesomeness  in  the  writings  of  tins  man,  —  a 
vernal  property  that  soothes  and  refreshes  in  a  way  of  which 
no  other  has  ever  found  the  secret.  I  repeat  to  myself  a  thou 
sand  times,  — 


* 
• 


"  Whan  that  Aprile  with  his  showres  sote 
The  droughte  of  March  hath  perced  to  the  rote, 
And  bathed  every  veine  in  swich  licour 
Of  which  vertue  engendered  is  the  flour,  — 
When  Zephyrus  eek  with  his  swete  breth 
Enspired  hath  in  every  holt  and  heth 
The  tender  croppes,  and  the  yonge  sonne 
Hath  in  the  ram  his  half£  cors  yronne, 
And  smale  foules  maken  melodic,''  — 

and  still  at  the  thousandth  time  a  breath  of  un contaminate 
springtide  seems  to  lift  the  hair  upon  my  forehead.  If  here 
be  not  the  largior  ether ,  the  serene  and  motionless  atmosphere 
of  classical  antiquity,  we  find  at  least  the  seclusum  nemus,  the 
domos  placidas,  and  the  oubliance,  as  Froissart  so  sweetly  calls 
it,  that  persuade  us  we  are  in  an  Elysium  none  the  less  sweet  that 
it  appeals  to  our  more  purely  human,  one  might  almost  say  do 
mestic,  sympathies.  We  may  say  of  Chaucer's  muse,  as  Over- 
bury  of  his  milkmaid,  "  her  breath  is  her  own,  which  scents 
all  the  year  long  of  June  like  a  new-made  haycock."  The  most 
hardened  roue  of  literature  can  scarce  confront  these  simple  and 
winning  graces  without  feeling  somewhat  of  the  unworn  senti 
ment  of  his  youth  revive  in  him.  Modern  imaginative  liter 
ature  has  become  so  self-conscious,  and  therefore  so  melan 
choly,  that  Art,  which  should  be  "  the  world's  sweet  inn," 
whither  we  repair  for  refreshment  and  repose,  has  become 
rather  a  watering-place,  where  one's  own  private  touch  of  the 
liver-complaint  is  exasperated  by  the  affluence  of  other  suf 
ferers  whose  talk  is  a  narrative  of  morbid  symptoms.  Poets 
have  forgotten  that  the  first  lesson  of  literature,  no  less  than 
of  life,  is  the  learning  how  to  burn  your  own  smoke ;  that  the 
way  to  be  original  is  to  be  healthy ;  that  the  fresh  color,  so 
delightful  in  all  good  writing,  is  won  by  escaping  from  the  fixed 
air  of  self  into  the  brisk  atmosphere  of  universal  sentiments  ; 
and  that  to  make  the  common  marvellous,  as  if  it  were  a 
revelation,  is  the  test  of  genius.  It  is  good  to  retreat  now  and 
then  beyond  earshot  of  the  introspective  confidences  of  modern 


1870.]  Chaucer.  157 

literature,  and  to  lose  ourselves  in  the  gracious  worldliness 
of  Chaucer.  Here  was  a  healthy  and  hearty  man,  so  genuine 
that  he  need  not  ask  whether  he  were  genuine  or  no,  so  sin 
cere  as  quite  to  forget  his  own  sincerity,  so  truly  pious  that  he 
could  be  happy  in  the  best  world  that  God  chose  to  make, 
so  humane  that  he  loved  even  the  foibles  of  his  kind.  Here 
was  a  truly  epic  poet,  without  knowing  it,  who  did  not  waste 
time  in  considering  whether  his  age  were  good  or  bad,  but 
quietly  taking  it  for  granted  as  the  best  that  ever  was  or  could 
be  for  him,  has  left  us  such  a  picture  of  contemporary  life  as 
no  man  ever  painted.  The  pupil  of  manifold  experience, — 
scholar,  courtier,  soldier,  ambassador,  who  had  known  poverty 
as  a  housemate  and  been  the  companion  of  princes,  —  his  was 
one  of  those  happy  temperaments  that  could  equally  enjoy  both 
halves  of  culture,  —  the  world  of  books  and  the  world  of  men. 

"  Unto  this  day  it  doth  mine  herte  boote, 
That  I  have  had  my  world  as  in  my  time ! " 

The  portrait  of  Chaucer,  which  we  owe  to  the  loving  regret  of 
his  disciple  Occleve,  confirms  the  judgment  of  him  which  we 
make  from  his  works.  It  is,  I  think,  more  engaging  than  that 
of  any  other  poet.  The  downcast  eyes,  half  sly,  half  medita 
tive,  the  sensuous  mouth,  the  broad  brow,  drooping  with  weight 
of  thought,  and  yet  with  an  inexpugnable  youth  shining  out  of 
it  as  from  the  morning  forehead  of  a  boy,  are  all  noticeable, 
and  not  less  so  their  harmony  of  placid  tenderness.  We  are 
struck,  too,  with  the  smoothness  of  the  face  as  of  one  who 
thought  easily,  whose  phrase  flowed  naturally,  and  who  had 
never  puckered  his  brow  over  an  unmanageable  verse. 

Nothing  has  been  added  to  our  knowledge  of  Chaucer's  life 
since  Sir  Harris  Nicholas,  with  the  help  of  original  records, 
weeded  away  the  fictions  by  which  the  few  facts  were  choked 
and  overshadowed.  We  might  be  sorry  that  no  confirmation 
has  been  found  for  the  story,  fathered  on  a  certain  phantasmal 
Mr.  Buckley,  that  Chaucer  was  "  fined  two  shillings  for  beating 
a  Franciscan  friar  in  Fleet  Street,"  if  it  were  only  for  the  allit 
eration  ;  but  we  refuse  to  give  up  the  meeting  with  Petrarch. 
All  the  probabilities  are  in  its  favor.  That  Chaucer,  being  at 
Milan,  should  not  have  found  occasion  to  ride  across  so  far  as 
Padua,  for  the  sake  of  seeing  the  most  famous  literary  man  of 


158  Chaucer.  [July? 

the  day,  is  incredible.  If  Froissart  could  journey  on  horse 
back  through  Scotland  and  Wales,  surely  Chaucer,  whose  curi 
osity  was  as  lively  as  his,  might  have  ventured  what  would 
have  been  a  mere  pleasure-trip  in  comparison.  I  cannot  easily 
bring  myself  to  believe  that  he  is  not  giving  some  touches  of 
his  own  character  in  that  of  the  Clerk  of  Oxford :  — 

"  For  him  was  liefer  have  at  his  bed's  head 
A  twenty  bookes  clothed  in  black  and  red 
Of  Aristotle  and  his  philosophic 
Than  robes  rich,  or  fiddle  or  psaltrie : 
But  although  that  he  were  a  philosopher 
Yet  had  he  but  a  little  gold  in  coffer : 
Of  study  took  he  moste  care  and  heed ; 
Not  one  word  spake  he  more  than  was  need : 
All  that  he  spake  it  was  of  high  prudence, 
And  short  and  quick,  and  full  of  great  sentence  ; 
Sounding  in  moral  virtue  was  his  speech 
And  gladly  would  he  learn  and  gladly  teach." 

That,  himself  as  plump  as  Horace,  he  should  have  described 
the  Clerk  as  being  lean,  will  be  no  objection  to  those  who  re 
member  how  carefully  Chaucer  effaces  his  own  personality  in 
his  great  poem.  Our  chief  debt  to  Sir  Harris  Nicholas  is  for 
having  disproved  the  story  that  Chaucer,  imprisoned  for  com 
plicity  in  the  insurrection  of  John  of  Northampton,  had  set 
himself  free  by  betraying  his  accomplices.  That  a  poet,  one 
of  whose  leading  qualities  is  his  good  sense  and  moderation, 
and  who  should  seem  to  have  practised  his  own  rule,  to " 

"  Fly  from  the  press  and  dwell  with  soothfastness ; 
Suffice  unto  thy  good  though  it  be  small," 

should  have  been  concerned  in  any  such  political  excesses,  was 
improbable  enough  ;  but  that  he  should  add  to  this  the  base 
ness  of  broken  faith  was  incredible  except  to  such  as  in  a 
doubtful  story 

"  Demen  gladly  to  the  badder  end." 

Sir  Harris  Nicholas  has  proved  by  the  records  that  the  fab 
ric  is  baseless,  and  we  may  now  read  the  poet's  fine  verse, 
"  Truth  is  the  highest  thing  a  man  may  keep," 

without  a  pang.  We  are  thankful  that  Chaucer's  shoulders 
are  finally  discharged  of  that  weary  load,  "  The  Testament  of 


1870.]  Chaucer.  159 

Love."*  The  later  biographers  seem  inclined  to  make  Chau 
cer  a  younger  man  at  his  death  in  1400  than  has  hitherto  been 
supposed.  Herr  Hertzberg  even  puts  his  birth  so  late  as  1340. 
But,  till  more  conclusive  evidence  is  produced,  we  shall  adhere 
to  the  received  dates  as  on  the  whole  more  consonant  with  the 
probabilities  of  the  case.  The  monument  is  clearly  right  as  to 
the  year  of  his  death,  and  the  chances  are  at  least  even  that  both 
this  and  the  date  of  birth  were  copied  from  an  older  inscrip 
tion.  The  only  counter- argument  that  has  much  force  is  the 
manifestly  unfinished  condition  of  the  Canterbury  Tales.  That 
a  man  of  seventy  odd  could  have  put  such  a  spirit  of  youth  into 
those  matchless  prologues  will  not,  however,  surprise  those  who 
remember  Drydeii's  second  spring-time.  It  is  plain  that  the 
notion  of  giving  unity  to  a  number  of  disconnected  stories  by 
the  device  which  Chaucer  adopted  was  an  afterthought.  These 
stories  had  been  written,  and  some  of  them  even  published,  at 
periods  far  asunder,  and  without  any  reference  to  connection 
among  themselves.  The  prologues,  and  those  parts  which  in 
ternal  evidence  justifies  us  in  taking  them  to  have  been  written 
after  the  thread  of  plan  to  string  them  on  was  conceived,  are 
in  every  way  more  mature,  —  in  knowledge  of  the  world,  in 
easy  mastery  of  verse  and  language,  and  in  the  overpoise  of 
sentiment  by  judgment.  They  may  with  as  much  probability 
be  referred  to  a  green  old  age  as  to  the  middle-life  of  a  man 
who,  upon  any  theory  of  the  dates,  was  certainly  slow  in 
ripening. 

The  formation  of  a  Chaucer  Society,  now  four  centuries  and 
a  half  after  the  poet's  death,  gives  suitable  occasion  for  taking 
a  new  observation  of  him,  as  of  a  fixed  star,  not  only  in  our 
own,  but  in  the  European  literary  heavens,  "  whose  worth  's 
unknown  although  his  height  be  taken."  The  admirable  work 
now  doing  by  this  Society,  whose  establishment  was  mainly 
due  to  the  pious  zeal  of  Mr.  Furnivall,  deserves  recognition 

*  Professor  Child,  the  highest  authority  on  such  a  question,  doubts  also  the  au 
thenticity  of  the  "  Romaunt  of  the  Rose,"  the  "  Court  of  Love,"  and  the  "  Assembly 
of  Foules."  Mr.  Bradshaw's  judgment  had  arrived  independently  at  the  same  result. 
To  these  doubtful  productions  there  is  strong  ground,  both  moral  and  esthetic, 
for  adding  the  Parson's  Tale. 


160  Chaucer.  [July? 

from  all  who  know  how  to  value  the  too  rare  union  of  accu- 
arte  scholarship  with  minute  exactness  in  reproducing  the  text. 
The  six-text  edition  of  the  Canterbury  Tales,  giving  what  is 
practically  equivalent  to  six  manuscript  copies,  is  particularly 
deserving  of  gratitude  from  this  side  the  water,  as  it  for  the 
first  time  affords  to  Americans  the  opportunity  of  independent 
critical  study  and  comparison.  This  beautiful  work  is  fittingly 
inscribed  to  our  countryman,  Professor  Child,  of  Harvard, 
a  lover  of  Chaucer,  "  so  proved  by  his  wordes  and  his  werke," 
who  has  done  more  for  the  great  poet's  memory  than  any 
man  since  Tyrwhitt.  We  earnestly  hope  that  the  Society 
may  find  enough  support  to  print  all  the  remaining  manuscript 
texts  of  importance,  for  there  can  hardly  be  any  one  of  them 
that  may  not  help  us  to  a  valuable  hint.  The  works  of  M. 
Sandras  and  Herr  Hertzberg  show  that  this  is  a  matter  of 
interest  not  merely  or  even  primarily  to  English  scholars. 
The  introduction  to  the  latter  is  one  of  the  best  essays  on 
Chaucer  yet  written,  while  the  former,  which  is  an  investiga 
tion  of  the  French  and  Italian  sources  of  the  poet,  supplies  us 
with  much  that  is  new  and  worth  having  as  respects  the  train 
ing  of  the  poet,  and  the  obstacles  of  fashion  and  taste  through 
which  he  had  to  force  his  way  before  he  could  find  free  play  for 
his  native  genius  or  even  so  much  as  arrive  at  a  consciousness 
thereof.  M.  Sandras  is  in  every  way  a  worthy  pupil  of  the 
accomplished  M.  Victor  Leclerc,  and,  though  he  lays  perhaps 
a  little  too  much  stress  on  the  indebtedness  of  Chaucer  in 
particulars,  shows  a  singularly  intelligent  and  clear-sighted 
eye  for  the  general  grounds  of  his  claim  to  greatness  and 
originality.  It  is  these  grounds  which  I  propose  chiefly  to 
examine  here. 

The  first  question  we  put  to  any  poet,  nay,  to  any  so-called 
national  literature,  is  that  which  Farinata  addressed  to  Dante, 
Chi  fur  li  maggior  tui  ?  Here  is  no  question  of  plagiarism,  for 
poems  are  not  made  of  words  and  thoughts  and  images,  but  of 
that  something  in  the  poet  himself  which  can  compel  them  to 
obey  him  and  move  to  the  rhythm  of  his  nature.  Thus  it  is 
that  the  new  poet,  however  late  he  come,  can  never  be  fore 
stalled,  and  the  shipbuilder  who  built  the  pinnace  of  Columbus 
has  as  much  claim  to  the  discovery  of  America  as  he  who  sug- 


1870.]  Chaucer.  161 

gests  a  thought  by  which  some  other  man  opens  new  worlds  to 
us  has  to  a  share  in  that  achievement  by  him  un conceived  and 
inconceivable.  Chaucer  undoubtedly  began  as  an  imitator,  per 
haps  as  mere  translator,  serving  the  needful  apprenticeship  in 
the  use  of  his  tools.  Children  learn  to  speak  by  watching  the 
lips  and  catching  the  words  of  those  who  know  how  already, 
and  poets  learn  in  the  same  way  from  their  elders.  They  im 
port  their  raw  material  from  any  and  everywhere,  and  the 
question  at  last  comes  down  to  this,  —  whether  an  author  have 
original  force  enough  to  assimilate  all  he  has  acquired,  or  that 
be  so  overmastering  as  to  assimilate  him.  If  the  poet  turn  out 
the  stronger,  we  allow  him  to  help  himself  from  other  people 
with  wonderful  equanimity.  Should  a  man  discover  the  art  of 
transmuting  metals  and  present  us  with  a  lump  of  gold  as  large 
as  an  ostrich-egg,  would  it  be  in  human  nature  to  inquire  too 
nicely  whether  he  had  stolen  the  lead  ? 

Nothing  is  more  certain  than  that  great  poets  are  not  sudden 
prodigies,  but  slow  results.  As  an  oak  profits  by  the  foregone 
lives  of  immemorial  vegetable  races  that  have  worked-over  the 
juices  of  earth  and  air  into  organic  life  out  of  whose  dissolution 
a  soil  might  gather  fit  to  maintain  that  nobler  birth  of  nature, 
so  we  may  be  sure  that  the  genius  of  every  remembered  poet 
drew  the  forces  that  built  it  up  out  of  the  decay  of  a  long  suc 
cession  of  forgotten  ones.  Nay,  in  proportion  as  the  genius  is 
vigorous  and  original  will  its  indebtedness  be  greater,  will  its 
roots  strike  deeper  into  the  past  and  grope  in  remoter  fields  for 
the  virtue  that  must  sustain  it.  Indeed,  if  the  works  of  the  great 
poets  teach  anything,  it  is  to  hold  mere  invention  somewhat 
cheap.  It  is  not  the  finding  of  a  thing,  but  the  making  some 
thing  out  of  it  after  it  is  found,  that  is  of  consequence.  Ac 
cordingly,  Chaucer,  like  Shakespeare,  invented  almost  nothing. 
Wherever  he  found  anything  directed  to  Geoffrey  Chaucer,  he 
took  it  and  made  the  most  of  it.  It  was  not  the  subject 
treated,  but  himself,  that  was  the  new  thing.  Cela  m'appar- 
tient  de  droit,  Moliere  is  reported  to  have  said  when  accused  of 
plagiarism.  Chaucer  pays  that  "  usurious  interest  which  gen 
ius,"  as  Coleridge  says,  "  always  pays  in  borrowing."  The 
characteristic  touch  is  his  own.  In  the  famous  passage  about 
the  caged  bird,  copied  from  the  "  Romance  of  the  Rose,"  the 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  11 


162  Chaucer.  [July, 

"  gan  eten  wormes "  was  added  by  him.  We  must  let  him,  if  he 
will,  eat  the  heart  out  of  the  literature  that  had  preceded  him, 
as  we  sacrifice  the  mulberry-leaves  to  the  silkworm,  because  he 
knows  how  to  convert  them  into  something  richer  and  more  last 
ing.  The  question  of  originality  is  not  one  of  form,  but  of  sub 
stance,  not  of  cleverness,  but  of  imaginative  power.  Given  your 
material,  in  other  words  the  life  in  which  you  live,  how  much  can 
you  see  in  it  ?  For  on  that  depends  how  much  you  can  make  of 
it.  Is  it  merely  an  arrangement  of  man's  contrivance,  a  patch 
work  of  expediencies  for  temporary  comfort  and  convenience, 
good  enough  if  it  last  your  time,  or  is  it  so  much  of  the  surface 
of  that  ever-flowing  deity  which  we  call  Time,  wherein  we  catch 
such  fleeting  reflection  as  is  possible  for  us  of  our  relation  to 
perdurable  things  ?  This  is  what  makes  the  difference  between 
^Eschylus  and  Euripides,  between  Shakespeare  and  Fletcher, 
between  Goethe  and  Heine,  between  literature  and  rhetoric. 
Something  of  this  depth  of  insight,  if  not  in  the  fullest,  yet  in 
no  inconsiderable  measure,  characterizes  Chaucer.  We  must 
not  let  his  playfulness,  his  delight  in  the  world  as  mere  spec 
tacle,  mislead  us  into  thinking  that  he  was  incapable  of  serious 
purpose  or  insensible  to  the  deeper  meanings  of  life. 

There  are  four  principal  sources  from  which  Chaucer  may  be 
presumed  to  have  drawn  for  poetical  suggestion  or  literary  cul 
ture,  —  the  Latins,  the  Troubadours,  the  Trouveres,  and  the 
Italians.  It  is  only  the  two  latter  who  can  fairly  claim  any  im 
mediate  influence  in  the  direction  of  his  thought  or  the  forma 
tion  of  his  style.  The  only  Latin  poet  who  can  be  supposed 
to  have  influenced  the  spirit  of  mediaeval  literature  is  Ovid.  In 
his  sentimentality,  his  love  of  the  marvellous  and  the  pictu 
resque,  he  is  its  natural  precursor.  The  analogy  between  his 
Fasti  and  the  versified  legends  of  saints  is  more  than  a  fanciful 
one.  He  was  certainly  popular  with  the  poets  of  the  thirteenth 
and  fourteenth  centuries.  Virgil  had  wellnigh  become  myth 
ical.  The  chief  merit  of  the  Provencal  poets  is  in  having  been 
the  first  to  demonstrate  that  it  was  possible  to  write  with  ele 
gance  in  a  modern  dialect,  and  their  interest  for  us  is  mainly 
as  forerunners,  as  indications  of  tendency.  Their  literature  is 
prophecy,  not  fulfilment.  Its  formal  sentiment  culminated  in 
Laura,  its  ideal  aspiration  in  Beatrice.  Shakespeare's  hundred 


18701]  Chaucer.  163 

and  sixth  sonnet,  if,  for  the  imaginary  mistress  to  whom  it  was 
addressed,  we  substitute  the  muse  of  a  truer  conception  and 
more  perfected  utterance,  represents  exactly  the  feeling  with 
which  we  read  Provencal  poetry  :  — 

"  When  in  the  chronicle  of  wasted  Time 
I  see  descriptions  of  the  fairest  wights 
And  beauty  making  beautiful  old  rhyme 
In  praise  of  ladies  dead  and  lovely  knights, 

I  see  their  antique  pen  would  have  expressed 

Even  such  a  beauty  as  you  master  now  ; 

So  all  their  praises  are  but  prophecies 

Of  this  our  time,  all  you  prefiguring, 

And,  for  they  looked  but  with  divining  eyes, 

They  had  not  skill  enough  your  worth  to  sing." 

It  is  astonishing  how  little  of  the  real  life  of  the  time  we  learn 
from  the  Troubadours  except  by  way  of  inference  and  deduc 
tion.  Their  poetry  is  purely  lyric  in  its  most  narrow  sense, 
that  is,  the  expression  of  personal  and  momentary  moods. 
To  the  fancy  of  critics  who  take  their  cue  from  tradition,  Pro- 
ven^-e  is  a  morning  sky  of  early  summer,  out  of  which  innumer 
able  larks  rain  a  faint  melody  (the  sweeter  because  rather  half 
divined  than  heard  too  distinctly)  over  an  earth  where  the  dew 
never  dries  and  the  flowers  never  fade.  But  when  we  open 
Raynouard  it  is  like  opening  the  door  of  an  aviary.  We  are 
deafened  and  confused  by  a  hundred  minstrels  singing  the 
same  song  at  once,  and  more  than  suspect  that  the  flowers 
they  welcome  are  made  of  French  cambric  spangled  with  dew- 
drops  of  prevaricating  glass.  Bernard  de  Veutadour  and  Ber- 
trand  de  Born  are  wellnigh  the  only  ones  among  them  in  whom 
we  find  an  original  type.  Yet  the  Troubadours  undoubtedly 
led  the  way  to  refinement  of  conception  and  perfection  of  form. 
They  were  the  conduit  through  which  the  failing  stream  of 
Roman  literary  tradition  flowed  into  the  new  channel  which 
mediaeval  culture  was  slowly  shaping  for  itself.  Without  them 
we  could  not  understand  Petrarca,  who  carried  the  manufacture 
of  artificial  bloom  and  fictitious  dew-drop  to  a  point  of  excellence 
where  artifice,  if  ever,  may  claim  the  praise  of  art.  Without 
them  we  could  not  understand  Dante,  in  whom  their  sentiment 
for  woman  was  idealized  by  a  passionate  intellect  and  a  profound 


164  Chaucer.  [3u}y, 

nature,  till  Beatrice  becomes  a  half-human,  half-divine  abstrac 
tion,  a  woman  still  to  memory  and  devotion,  a  discmlcdied  sym 
bol  to  the  ecstasy  of  thought.  The  Provencal  love-poetry  was 
as  abstracted  from  all  sensuality  as  that  of  Petrarca,  but  it  stops 
short  of  that  larger  and  more  gracious  style  of  treatment  which 
has  secured  him  a  place  in  all  gentle  hearts  and  refined  imagina 
tions  forever.  In  it  also  woman  leads  her  servants  upward,  but 
it  is  along  the  easy  slopes  of  conventional  sentiment,  and  no 
Troubadour  so  much  as  dreamed  of  that  loftier  region,  native 
to  Dante,  where  the  woman  is  subtilized  into  das  Ewig-Wei- 
bliehe,  type  of  man's  finer  conscience  and  nobler  aspiration 
made  sensible  to  him  only  through  her. 

On  the  whole,  it  would  be  hard  to  find  anything  more  tedi 
ously  artificial  than  the  Provencal  literature,  except  the  repro 
duction  of  it  by  the  Minnesingers.  The  Tedeschi  lurchi  cer 
tainly  did  contrive  to  make  something  heavy  as  dough  out  of 
what  was  at  least  light,  if  not  very  satisfying,  in  the  canorous 
dialect  of  Southern  Gaul.  But  its  doom  was  inevitably  pre 
dicted  in  its  nature  and  position,  nay,  in  its  very  name.  It 
was,  and  it  continues  to  be,  a  strictly  provincial  literature, 
imprisoned  within  extremely  narrow  intellectual  and  even  geo 
graphical  limits.  It  is  not  race  or  language  that  can  inflict 
this  leprous  isolation,  but  some  defect  of  sympathy  with  the 
simpler  and  more  universal  relations  of  human  nature.  You 
cannot  shut  up  Burns  in  a  dialect  bristling  with  archaisms,  nor 
prevent  Beranger  from  setting  all  pulses  a-dance  in  the  least 
rhythmic  and  imaginative  of  modern  tongues.  The  healthy  tem 
perament  of  Chaucer,  with  its  breadth  of  interest  in  all  ranks 
and  phases  of  social  life,  could  have  found  little  that  was  sym 
pathetic  in  the  evaporated  sentiment  and  rhetorical  punctilios 
of  a  school  of  poets  which,  with  rare  exceptions,  began  and 
ended  in  courtly  dilettantism. 

The  refined  formality  with  which  the  literary  product  of 
Provence  is  for  the  most  part  stamped,  as  with  a  trademark, 
was  doubtless  the  legacy  of  Gallo-Roman  culture,  itself  at  best 
derivative  and  superficial.  I  think,  indeed,  that  it  may  well 
be  doubted  whether  Roman  literature,  always  a  half-hardy 
exotic,  could  ripen  the  seeds  of  living  reproduction.  The 
Roman  genius  was  eminently  practical,  and  far  more  apt  for 


1870.]  Chaucer.  165 

the  triumphs  of  politics  and  jurisprudence  than  of  art.  Su 
preme  elegance  it  could  and  did  arrive  at  in  Virgil,  but,  if  I 
may  trust  my  own  judgment,  it  produced  but  one  original  poet, 
and  that  was  Horace,  who  has  ever  since  continued  the  favorite 
of  men  of  the  world,  an  apostle  to  the  Gentiles  of  the  mild  cyni 
cism  of  middle-age  and  an  after-dinner  philosophy.  Though  in  no 
sense  national,  he  was,  more  truly  than  any  has  ever  been  since, 
till  the  same  combination  of  circumstances  produced  Beranger, 
an  urbane  or  city  poet.  Rome,  with  her  motley  life,  her  formal 
religion,  her  easy  morals,  her  spectacles,  her  luxury,  her  subur 
ban  country-life,  was  his  muse.  The  situation  was  new,  and 
found  a  singer  who  had  wit  enough  to  turn  it  to  account. 
There  are  a  half-dozen  pieces  of  Catullus  unsurpassed  (unless 
their  Greek  originals  should  turn  up)  for  lyric  grace  and  fanciful 
tenderness.  The  sparrow  of  Lesbia  still  pecks  the  rosy  lips  of 
his  mistress,  immortal  as  the  eagle  of  Pindar.  One  profound 
imagination,  one  man,  who  with  a  more  prosperous  subject 
might  have  been  a  great  poet,  lifted  Roman  literature  above  its 
ordinary,  level  of  tasteful  commonsense.  The  invocation  of 
Venus,  as  the  genetic  force  of  nature,  by  Lucretius,  seems  to 
me  the  one  sunburst  of  purely  poetic  inspiration  which  the 
Latin  language  can  show.  But  this  very  force,  without  which 
neque  fit  Icstum  neque  amabile  quicquam  was  wholly  want 
ing  in  those  poets  of  the  post-classic  period,  through  whom 
the  literary  influences  of  the  past  were  transmitted  to  the 
romanized  provincials.  The  works  of  Ausonius  interest  us  as 
those  of  our  own  Dwights  and  Barlows  do.  The  "  Conquest 
of  Canaan  "  and  the  "  Columbiad  "  were  Connecticut  epics  no 
doubt,  but  were  still  better  than  nothing  in  their  day.  If  not 
literature,  they  were  at  least  memories  of  literature,  and  such 
memories  are  not  without  effect  in  reproducing  what  they  re 
gret.  The  provincial  writers  of  Latin  devoted  themselves  with 
a  dreary  assiduity  to  the  imitation  of  models  which  they  deemed 
classical,  but  which  were  truly  so  only  in  the  sense  that  they 
were  the  more  decorously  respectful  of  the  dead  form  in  propor 
tion  as  the  living  spirit  had  more  utterly  gone  out  of  it.  It  is,  I 
suspect,  to  the  traditions  of  this  purely  rhetorical  influence,  indi 
rectly  exercised,  that  we  are  to  attribute  the  rapid  passage  of 
the  new  Provencal  poetry  from  what  must  have  been  its  origi- 


166  Chaucer.  [July, 

nal  popular  character  to  that  highly  artificial  condition  which 
precedes  total  extinction.  It  was  the  alienation  of  the  written 
from  the  spoken  language  (always,  perhaps,  more  or  less  ma 
lignly  operative  in  giving  Roman  literature  a  cold-blooded  turn 
as  compared  with  Greek),  which,  ending  at  length  in  total 
divorce,  rendered  Latin  incapable  of  supplying  the  wants  of  new 
men  and  new  ideas.  The  same  thing,  I  am  strongly  inclined 
to  think,  was  true  of  the  language  of  the  Troubadours.  It  had 
become  literary,  and  so  far  dead.  It  is  true  that  no  language  is 
ever  so  far  gone  in  consumption  as  to  be  beyond  the  great-poet- 
cure.  Undoubtedly  a  man  of  genius  can  out  of  his  own  super 
abundant  vitality  compel  life  into  the  most  decrepit  vocabu 
lary.  But  it  is  by  the  infusion  of  his  own  blood,  as  it  were,  and 
not  without  a  certain  sacrifice  of  power.  No  such  rescue  came 
for  the  langue  d'oc,  which,  it  should  seem,  had  performed  its 
special  function  in  the  development  of  modern  literature,  and 
would  have  perished  even  without  the  Albigensian  war.  The 
position  of  the  Gallo-Romans  pf  the  South,  both  ethical  and 
geographical,  precluded  them  from  producing  anything  really 
great  or  even  original  in  literature,  for  that  must  have  its  root  in 
a  national  life,  and  this  they  never  had.  After  the  Burgundian 
invasion  their  situation  was  in  many  respects  analogous  to  our 
own  after  the  Revolutionary  War.  They  had  been  thoroughly 
romanized  in  language  and  culture,  but  the  line  of  their  his 
toric  continuity  had  been  broken.  The  Roman  road,  which 
linked  them  with  the  only  past  they  knew,  had  been  buried 
under  the  great  barbarian  land-slide.  In  like  manner  we,  in 
heriting  the  language,  the  social  usages,  the  literary  and  politi 
cal  traditions  of  Englishmen,  were  suddenly  cut  adrift  from  our 
historical  anchorage.  Very  soon  there  arose  a  demand  for  a 
native  literature,  nay,  it  was  even  proposed  that,  as  a  first  step 
toward  it,  we  should  adopt  a  lingo  of  our  own  to  be  called  the 
Columbian  or  Hesperian.  This,  to  be  sure,  was  never  accom 
plished,  though  our  English  cousins  seem  to  hint  sometimes  that 
we  have  made  very  fair  advances  toward  it ;  but  if  it  could  have 
been,  our  position  would  have  been  precisely  that  of  the  Proven- 
^als  when  they  began  to  have  a  literature  of  their  own.  They 
had  formed  a  language  which,  while  it  completed  their  orphan 
age  from  their  imperial  mother,  continually  recalled  her,  and 


1870.]  Chaucer.  167 

kept  alive  their  pride  of  lineage.  Such  reminiscences  as  they 
still  retained  of  Latin  culture  were  pedantic  and  rhetorical,* 
and  it  was  only  natural  that  out  of  these  they  should  have 
elaborated  a  code  of  poetical  jurisprudence  with  titles  and  sub 
titles  applicable  to  every  form  of  verse  and  tyrannous  over 
every  mode  of  sentiment.  The  result  could  not  fail  to  be  arti 
ficial  and  wearisome,  except  where  some  man  with  a  truly 
lyrical  genius  could  breathe  life  into  the  rigid  formula  and 
make  it  pliant  to  his  more  passionate  feeling.  The  great  ser 
vice  of  the  Provencals  was  that  they  kept  in  mind  the  fact  that 
poetry  was  not  merely  an  amusement,  but  an  art,  and  long 
after  their  literary  activity  had  ceased  their  influence  reacted 
beneficially  upon  Europe  through  their  Italian  pupils.  They 
are  interesting  as  showing  the  tendency  of  the  Romanic  races 
to  a  scientific  treatment  of  what,  if  it  be  not  spontaneous,  be 
comes  a  fashion  and  erelong  an  impertinence.  Fauriel  has 
endeavored  to  prove  that  they  were  the  first  to  treat  the  me 
diaeval  heroic  legends  epically,  but  the  evidence  is  strongly 
against  him.  The  testimony  of  Dante  on  this  point  is  ex 
plicit,!  and  moreover  not  a  single  romance  of  chivalry  has 
come  down  to  us  in  a  dialect  of  the  pure  Provencal. 

The  Trouveres,  on  the  other  hand,  are  apt  to  have  something 
naive  and  vigorous  about  them,  something  that  smacks  of  race 
and  soil.  Their  very  coarseness  is  almost  better  than  the  Trou 
badour  delicacy,  because  it  was  not  an  affectation.  The  differ 
ence  between  the  two  schools  is  that  between  a  culture  pedanti 
cally  transmitted  and  one  which  grows  and  gathers  strength 
from  natural  causes.  Indeed,  it  is  to  the  North  of  France  and 
to  the  Trouveres  that  we  are  to  look  for  the  true  origins  of  our 
modern  literature.  I  do  not  mean  in  their  epical  poetry,  though 
there  is  something  refreshing  in  the  mere  fact  of  their  choos- 

*  Fauriel,  Histoire  de  la  Gaule  Meridionale,  Vol.  I.  passim. 

t  Allegat  ergo  pro  se  lingua  Oil  quod  propter  sui  faciliorem  et  delectabiliorem 
vulgaritatem,  quicquid  redactura  sive  inventum  est  ad  vulgare  prosaicum,  suum  est; 
videlicet  biblia  cum  Trojanorum,  Romanorumque  gestibus  compilata  et  Arturi  regis 
ambages  pulcherrimse  et  quamplures  alise  historise  ac  doctrine.  That  Dante  by 
prosriicum  did  not  mean  prose,  but  a  more  inartificial  verse,  numeros  leg"  solulos,  is 
clear.  Cf.  Wolf,  Ueber  die  Lais,  pp.  92  seq.  and  notes.  It  has  not,  I  think,  been 
remarked  that  Dante  borrows  }\\s  facifiorem  et  delectabiliorem  from  the  plus  diletable  et 
comune  of  his  master  Brunetto  Latini. 


168  Chaucer.  [July, 

ing  native  heroes  and  legends  as  the  subjects  of  their  song. 
It  was  in  their  Fabliaux  and  Lais  that,  dealing  with  the 
realities  of  the  life  about  them,  they  became  original  and  de 
lightful  in  spite  of  themselves.  Their  Chansons  de  Geste  are 
fine  specimens  of  fighting  Christianity,-  highly  inspiring  for 
men  like  Peire  de  Bergerac,  who  sings 

"  Bel  m'es  can  aug  lo  resso 
Que  fai  Pausbercs  ab  1'arso, 
Li  bruit  e  il  crit  e  il  masan 
Que  il  corn  e  las  trombas  fan  "  ;  * 

but  who  after  reading  them  —  even  the  best  of  them,  the  Song 
of  Roland  —  can  remember  much  more  than  a  cloud  of  battle- 
dust,  through  which  the  paladins  loom  dimly  gigantic,  and  a 
strong  verse  flashes  here  and  there  like  an  angry  sword  ? 
What  are  the  Roman  (Tavantures,  the  cycle  of  Arthur  and  his 
knights,  but  a  procession  of  armor  and  plumes,  mere  spectacle, 
not  vision  like  their  Grecian  antitype,  the  Odyssey,  whose  pic 
tures  of  life,  whether  domestic  or  heroic,  are  among  the  abid 
ing  consolations  of  the  mind  ?  An  element  of  disproportion j 
of  grotesqueness,f  earmark  of  the  barbarian,  disturbs  us,  even 
when  it  does  not  disgust,  in  them  all.  Except  the  Roland, 
they  all  want  adequate  motive,  and  even  in  that  we  may  well 
suspect  a  reminiscence  of  the  Iliad.  They  are  not  without  a 
kind  of  dignity,  for  manliness  is  always  noble,  and  there  are 
detached  scenes  that  are  striking,  perhaps  all  the  more  so 
from  their  rarity,  like  the  combat  of  Oliver  and  Fierabras, 
and  the  leave-taking  of  Parise  la  Duchesse.  But  in  point  of 
art  they  are  far  below  even  Firdusi,  whose  great  poem  is  of 
precisely  the  same  romantic  type.  The  episode  of  Sohrab  and 
Rustem  as  much  surpasses  the  former  of  the  passages  just  al 
luded  to  in  largeness  and  energy  of  treatment,  in  the  true 
epical  quality,  as  the  lament  of  Tehmine  over  her  son  does  the 
latter  of  them  in  refined  and  natural  pathos.  In  our  revolt 
against  pseudo-classicism  we  must  not  let  our  admiration  for 
the  vigor  and  freshness  which  are  the  merit  of  this  old  poetry 

*  "  My  ears  no  sweeter  music  know 

Than  hauberk's  clank  with  saddlebow, 
The  noise,  the  cries,  the  tumult  blown 
From  trumpet  and  from  clarion." 

t  Compare  Floripar  in  Fierabras  with  Naubikiia,  for  example. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  169 

tempt  us  to  forget  that  our  direct  literary  inheritance  comes  to 
us  from  an  ancestry  who  would  never  have  got  beyond  the  Age 
of  Iron  but  for  the  models  of  graceful  form  and  delicate  work 
manship  which  they  found  in  the  tombs  of  an  earlier  race. 

The  great  advantages  which  the  lanscue  d'oil  had  over  its 
sister  dialect  of  the  South  of  France  were  its  wider  distribution, 
and  its  representing  the  national  and  unitary  tendencies  of  the 
people  as  opposed  to  those  of  proyincial  isolation.  But  the 
Trouveres  had  also  this  superiority,  that  they  gave  a  voice  to 
real  and  not  merely  conventional  emotions.  In  comparison 
with  the  Troubadours  their  sympathies  were  more  human,  and 
their  expression  more  popular.  While  the  tiresome  ingenuity 
of  the  latter  busied  itself  chiefly  in  the  filigree  of  wiredrawn 
sentiment  and  supersubtilized  conceit,  the  former  took  their 
subjects  from  the  street  and  the  market  as  well  as  from  the 
chateau.  In  the  one  case  language  had  become  a  mere  ma 
terial  for  clever  elaboration ;  in  the  other,  as  always  in  live 
literature,  it 'was  a  soil  fr6m  which  the  roots  of  thought  and 
feeling  unponsciously  drew  the  coloring  of  vivid  expression. 
The  writers  of  French,  by  the  greater  pliancy  of  their  dialect 
and  the  simpler  forms  of  their  verse,  had  acquired  an  ease 
which  was  impossible  in  the  more  stately  and  sharply  angled 
vocabulary  of  the  South.  Their  octosyllabics  have  not  seldom  a 
careless  facility  not  unworthy  of  Swift  in  his  best  mood.  They 
had  attained  the  highest  skill  and  grace  in  narrative,  as  the 
lays  of  Marie  de  France  and  the  Lai  de  V  Oiselet  bear  witness.* 
Above  all,  they  had  learned  how  to  brighten  the  hitherto  monot 
onous  web  of  story  with  the  gayer  hues  of  fancy. 

It  is  no  improbable  surmise  that  the  sudden  and  surprising 
development  of  the  more  strictly  epical  poetry  in  the  North  of 
France,  and  especially  its  growing  partiality  for  historical  in 
preference  to  mythical  subjects,  were  due  to  the  Normans.  The 
poetry  of  the  Danes  was  much  of  it  authentic  history,  or  what 
was  believed  to  be  so  ;  the  heroes  of  their  Sagas  were  real  men, 
with  wives  and  children,  with  relations  public  and  domestic, 
on  the  common  levels  of  life,  and  not  mere  creatures  of  imag 
ination,  who  dwell  apart  like  stars  from  the  vulgar  cares 
and  interests  of  men.  If  we  compare  Havelok  with  the 

*  If  internal  evidence  may  be  trusted,  the  Lai  de  I'Espine  is  not  hers. 


170  Chaucer.  [July, 

least  idealized  figures  of  Carlovingian  or  Arthurian  romance 
we  shall  have  a  keen  sense  of  this  difference.  Manhood  has 
taken  the  place  of  caste,  and  homeliness  of  exaggeration. 
Havelok  says,  — 

"  Godwot,  I  will  with  thee  gang 
For  to  learn  some  good  to  get; 
Swinken  would  I  for  my  meat; 
It  is  no  shame  for  to  swinken." 

This  Dane,  we  see,  is  of  our  own  make  and  stature,  a  being 
much  nearer  our  kindly  sympathies  than  his  compatriot  Ogier, 
of  whom  we  are  told, 

"  Dix  pies  de  lone  avoit  le  chevalier.'* 

But  however  large  or  small  share  we  may  allow  to  the  Danes 
in  changing  the  character  of  French  poetry  and  supplanting 
the  Romance  with  the  Fabliau,  there  can  be  little  doubt  either 
of  the  kind  or  amount  of  influence  which  the  Normans  must 
have  brought  with  them  into  England.  I  am  not  going  to  at 
tempt  a  definition  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  element  in  English  liter 
ature,  for  generalizations  are  apt  to  be  as  dangerous  as  they 
are  tempting.  But  as  a  painter  may  draw  a  cloud  so  that  we 
recognize  its  general  truth,  though  the  boundaries  of  real 
clouds  never  remain  the  same  for  two  minutes  together,  so 
amid  the  changes  of  feature  and  complexion  brought  about  by 
commingling  of  race,  there  still  remains  a  certain  cast  of  phys 
iognomy  which  points  back  to  some  one  ancestor  of  marked 
and  peculiar  character.  It  is  toward  this  type  that  there  is  al 
ways  a  tendency  to  revert,  to  borrow  Mr.  Darwin's  phrase,  and 
I  think  the  general  belief  is  not  without  some  adequate  grounds 
which  in  France  traces  this  predominant  type  to  the  Kelt,  and 
in  England  to  the  Saxon.  In  old  and  stationary  communities, 
where  tradition  has  a  chance  to  take  root,  and  where  several 
generations  are  present  to  the  mind  of  each  inhabitant,  either 
by  personal  recollection  or  transmitted  anecdote,  everybody's 
peculiarities,  whether  of  strength  or  weakness,  are  explained 
and,  as  it  were,  justified  upon  some  theory  of  hereditary  bias. 
Such  and  such  qualities  he  got  from  a  grandfather  on  the  spear 
or  a  great-uncle  on  the  spindle  side.  This  gift  came  in  a  right 
line  from  So-and-so ;  that  failing  came  in  by  the  dilution  of  the 
family  blood  with  that  of  Such-a-one.  In  this  way  a  certain 


1870.]  Chaucer.  171 

allowance  is  made  for  every  aberration  from  some  assumed 
normal  type,  either  in  the  way  of  reinforcement  or  defect,  and 
that  universal  desire  of  the  human  mind  to  have  everything 
accounted  for  —  which  makes  the  moon  responsible  for  the 
whimsies  of  the  weathercock  —  is  cheaply  gratified.  But  as 
mankind  in  the  aggregate  is  always  wiser  than  any  single  man, 
because  its  experience  is  derived  from  a  larger  range  of  ob 
servation  and  experience,  and  because  the  springs  that  feed  it 
drain  a  wider  region  both  of  time  and  space,  there  is  com 
monly  some  greater  or  smaller  share  of  truth  in  all  popular 
prejudices.  The  meteorologists  are  beginning  to  agree  with 
the  old  women  that  the  moon  is  an  accessary  before  the  fact  in 
our  atmospheric  fluctuations.  Now,  although  to  admit  this 
notion  of  inherited  good  or  ill  to  its  fullest  extent  would  be  to 
abolish  personal  character,  and  with  it  all  responsibility,  to  ab 
dicate  freewill,  and  to  make  every  effort  at  self-direction  futile, 
there  is  no  inconsiderable  alloy  of  truth  in  it,  nevertheless.  No 
man  can  look  into  the  title-deeds  of  what  may  be  called  his  per 
sonal  estate,  his  faculties,  his  predilections,  his  failings, — what 
ever,  in  short,  sets  him  apart  as  a  capital  I,  —  without  some 
thing  like  a  shock  of  dread  to  find  how  much  of  him  is  held  in 
mortmain  by  those  who,  though  long  ago  mouldered  away  to 
dust,  are  yet  fatally  alive  and  active  in  him  for  good  or  ill. 
What  is  true  of  individual  men  is  true  also  of  races,  and  the 
prevailing  belief  in  a  nation  as  to  the  origin  of  certain  of  its 
characteristics  has  something  of  the  same  basis  in  facts  of 
observation  as  the  village  estimate  of  the  traits  of  particular 
families.  Interdum  vulgus  rectum  videt. 

We  are  apt,  it  is  true,  to  talk  rather  loosely  about  our  Anglo- 
Saxon  ancestors,  and  to  attribute  to  them  in  a  vague  way  all 
the  pith  of  our  institutions  and  the  motive  power  of  our  progress. 
For  my  own  part,  I  think  there  is  such  a  thing  as  being  too 
Anglo-Saxon,  and  the  warp  and  woof  of  the  English  national 
character,  though  undoubtedly  two  elements  mainly  predomi 
nate  in  it,  is  quite  too  complex  for  us  to  pick  out  a  strand  here 
and  there,  and  affirm  that  the  body  of  the  fabric  is  of  this  or  that. 
Our  present  concern  with  the  Saxons  is  chiefly  a  literary  one ; 
but  it  leads  to  a  study  of  general  characteristics.  What,  then, 
so  far  as  we  can  make  it  out,  seems  to  be  their  leading  mental 


172  Chaucer.  [July, 

feature  ?  Plainly,  understanding,  common  sense,  —  a  faculty 
.which  never  carries  its  possessor  very  high  in  creative  litera 
ture,  though  it  may  make  him  great  as  an  acting  and  even 
thinking  man.  Take  Dr.  Johnson  as  an  instance.  The  Saxon, 
as  it  appears  to  me,  has  never  shown  any  capacity  for  art,  nay, 
commonly  commits  ugly  blunders  when  he  is  tempted  in  that 
direction.  He  has  made  the  best  working  institutions  and  the 
ugliest  monuments  among  the  children  of  men.  He  is  want 
ing  in  taste,  which  is  as  much  as  to  say  that  he.  has  no  true 
sense  of  proportion.  His  genius  is  his  solidity,  —  an  admi 
rable  foundation  of  national  character.  He  is  healthy,  in  no 
danger  of  liver-complaint,  with  digestive  apparatus  of  amazing 
force  and  precision.  He  is  the  best  farmer  and  best  grazier 
among  men,  raises  the  biggest  crops  and  the  fattest  cattle, 
and  consumes  proportionate  quantities  of  both.  He  settles 
and  sticks  like  a  diluvial  deposit  on  the  warm,  low-lying 
levels,  physical  and  moral.  He  has  a  prodigious  talent,  to 
use  our  Yankee  phrase,  of  staying'  put.  You  cannot  move 
him ;  he  and  rich  earth  have  a  natural  sympathy  of  cohe 
sion.  Not  quarrelsome,  but  with  indefatigable  durability  of 
fight  in  him,  sound  of  stomach,  and  not  too  refined  in  ner 
vous  texture,  he  is  capable  of  indefinitely  prolonged  punish 
ment,  with  a  singularly  obtuse  sense  of  propriety  in  acknowl 
edging  himself  beaten.  Among  all  races  perhaps  none  has 
shown  so  acute  a  sense  of  the  side  on  which  its  bread  is  but 
tered,  and  so  great  a  repugnance  for  having  fine  phrases  take 
the  place  of  the  butyraceous  principle.  They  invented  the 
words  "  humbug,"  "  cant,"  "  sham,"  "  gag,"  "  soft-sodder," 
"  flapdoddle,"  and  other  disenchanting  formulas  whereby  the 
devil  of  falsehood  and  unreality  gets  his  effectual  apage  Satana  ! 
An  imperturbable  perception  of  the  real  relations  of  things 
is  the  Saxon's  leading  quality,  —  no  sense  whatever,  or  at  best 
small,  of  the  ideal  in  him.  He  has  no  notion  that  two  and  two 
ever  make  five,  which  is  the  problem  the  poet  often  has  to  solve. 
Understanding,  that  is,  equilibrium  of  mind,  intellectual  good 
digestion,  this,  with  unclogged  biliary  ducts,  makes  him  men 
tally  and  physically  what  we  call  a  very  fixed  fact ;  but  you 
shall  not  find  a  poet  in  a  hundred  thousand  square  miles,  —  in 
many  prosperous  centuries  of  such.  But  one  element  of  incal- 


1870.]  Chaucer.  173 

culable  importance  we  have  not  mentioned.  In  this  homely 
nature,  the  idea  of  God,  and  of  a  simple  and  direct  relation 
between  the  All-Father  and  his  children,  is  deeply  rooted. 
There,  above  all,  will  he  have  honesty  and  simplicity ;  less 
than  anything  else  will  he  have  the  sacramental  wafer, — 
that  .beautiful  emblem  of  our  dependence  on  Him  who  giv- 
eth  the  daily  bread  ;  less  than  anything  will  he  have  this 
smeared  with  that  Barmecide  butter  of  fair  words.  This  is  the 
lovely  and  noble  side  of  his  character.  Indignation  at  this  will 
make  him  forget  crops  and  cattle  ;  and  this,  after  so  many  cen 
turies,  will  give  him  at  last  a  poet  in  the  monk  of  Eisleben,  who 
shall  cut  deep  on  the  memory  of  mankind  that  brief  creed  of 
conscience,  —  u  Here  am  I :  God  help  me  :  I  cannot  otherwise." 
This,  it  seems  to  me,  with  dogged  sense  of  justice,  —  both 
results  of  that  equilibrium  of  thought  which  springs  from  clear 
sighted  understanding,  —  makes  the  beauty  of  the  Saxon  nature. 

He  believes  in  another  world,  and  conceives  of  it  without 
metaphysical  subtleties  as  something  very  much  after  the 
pattern  of 'this,  but  infinitely  more  desirable.  Witness  the 
vision  of  John  Bunyan.  Once  beat  it  into  him  that  his 
eternal  well-being,  as  he  calls  it,  depends  on  certain  condi 
tions,  that  only  so  will  the  balance  in  the  ledger  of  eter 
nity  be  in  his  favor,  and  the  man  who  seemed  wholly  of 
this  world  will  give  all  that  he  has,  even  his  life,  with  a  su 
perb  simplicity  and  scorn  of  the  theatric,  for  a  chance  in  the 
next.  Hard  to  move,  his  very  solidity  of  nature  makes  him 
terrible  when  once  fairly  set  agoing.  He  is  the  man  of  all 
others  slow  to  admit  the  thought  of  revolution  ;  but  let  him 
once  admit  it,  he  will  carry  it  through  and  make  it  stick,  — 
a  secret  hitherto  undiscoverable  by  other  races. 

But  poetry  is  not  made  out  of  the  understanding ;  that  is 
not  the  sort  of  block  out  of  which  you  can  carve  wing-footed 
Mercuries.  The  question  of  common  sense  is  always,  "  What  is 
it  goqd  for  ?  "  —  a  question  which  would  abolish  the  rose  and  be 
answered  triumphantly  by  the  cabbage.  The  danger  of  the 
prosaic  type  of  mind  lies  in  the  stolid  sense  of  superiority 
which  blinds  it  to  everything  ideal,  to  the  use  of  anything  that 
does  not  serve  the  practical  purposes  of  life.  Do  we  not 
remember  how  the  all-observing  and  all-fathoming  Shakespeare 


174  Chaucer.  [July? 

has  typified  this  in  Bottom  the  weaver  ?  Surrounded  by  all  the 
fairy  creations  of  fancy,  he  sends  one  to  fetch  him  the  bag  of  a 
humble-bee,  and  can  find  no  better  employment  for  Mustard- 
seed  than  to  help  Cavalero  Cobweb  scratch  his  ass's  head  be 
tween  the  ears.  When  Titania,  queen  of  that  fair  ideal  world, 
offers  him  a  feast  of  beauty,  he  says  he  has  a  good  stomach  to 
a  pottle  of  hay  ! 

The  Anglo-Saxons  never  had  any  real  literature  of  their 
own.  They  produced  monkish  chronicles  in  bad  Latin,  and 
legends  of  saints  in  worse  metre.  Their  earlier  poetry  is  essen 
tially  Scandinavian.  It  was  that  gens  inclytissima  Northman- 
norum  that  imported  the  divine  power  of  imagination,  —  that 
power  which,  mingled  with  the  solid  Saxon  understanding,  pro 
duced  at  last  the  miracle  of  Stratford.  It  was  to  this  adventur 
ous  race,  which  found  America  before  Columbus,  which,  for  the 
sake  of  freedom  of  thought,  could  colonize  inhospitable  Iceland, 
which,  as  it  were,  typifying  the  very  action  of  the  imaginative 
faculty  itself,  identified  itself  always  with  what  it  conquered, 
that  we  owe  whatever  aquiline  features  there  are  in  the  na 
tional  physiognomy  of  the  English  race.  It  was  through  the 
Normans  that  the  English  mind  and  fancy,  hitherto  provincial 
and  uncouth,  were  first  infused  with  the  lightness,  grace,  and 
self-confidence  of  Romance  literature.  They  seem  to  have 
opened  a  window  to  the  southward  in  that  solid  and  somewhat 
sombre  insular  character,  and  it  was  a  painted  window  all 
aglow  with  the  figures  of  tradition  and  poetry.  The  old  Gothic 
volume,  grim  with  legends  of  devilish  temptation  and  satanic 
lore,  they  illuminated  with  the  gay  and  brilliant  inventions  of 
a  softer  climate  and  more  genial  moods.  Even  the  stories  of 
Arthur  and  his  knights,  toward  which  the  stern  Dante  himself 
relented  so  far  as  to  call  them  gratissimas  ambages,  most 
delightful  circumlocutions,  though  of  British  original,  were  first 
set  free  from  the  dungeon  of  a  barbarous  dialect  by  the  French 
poets,  and  so  brought  back  to  England,  and  made  popular 
there  by  the  Normans. 

Chaucer,  to  whom  French  must  have  been  almost  as  truly  a 
mother  tongue  as  English,  was  familiar  with  all  that  had  been 
done  by  Troubadour  or  Trouvere.  In  him  we  see  the  first  re 
sult  of  the  Norman  yeast  upon  the  home-baked  Saxon  loaf. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  175 

The  flour  had  been  honest,  the  paste  well-kneaded,  but  the  in 
spiring  leaven  was  wanting  till  the  Norman  brought  it  over. 
Chaucer  works  still  in  the  solid  material  of  his  race,  but  with 
what  airy  lightness  has  he  not  infused  it  ?  Without  ceasing  to  be 
English,  he  has  escaped  from  being  insular.  But  he  was  some 
thing  more  than  this  ;  he  was  a  scholar,  a  thinker,  and  a  critic. 
He  had  studied  the  Divina  Commedia  of  Dante,  he  had  read 
Petrarca  and  Boccaccio,  and  some  of  the  Latin  poets.  He  calls 
Dante  the  great  poet  of  Italy,  and  Petrarch  a  learned  clerk. 
It  is  plain  that  he  knew  very  well  the  truer  purpose  of  poetry, 
and  had  even  arrived  at  the  higher  wisdom  of  comprehending 
the  aptitudes  and  limitations  of  his  own  genius.  He  saw 
clearly  and  felt  keenly  what  were  the  faults  and  what  the 
wants  of  the  prevailing  literature  of  his  country.  In  the 
Monk's  Tale  he  slyly  satirizes  the  long-winded  morality  of 
Gower,  as  his  prose  antitype,  Fielding,  was  to  satirize  the  prolix 
sentimentality  of  Richardson.  In  the  rhyme  of  Sir  Thopas  he 
gives  the  coup  de  grace  to  the  romances  of  Chivalry,  and  in  his 
own  choice  of  a  subject  he  heralds  that  new  world  in  which  the 
actual  and  the  popular  were  to  supplant  the  fantastic  and  heroic. 
With  the  single  exception  of  Piers  Ploughman,  the  English 
poets,  his  contemporaries,  were  little  else  than  bad  versifiers  of 
legends  classic  or  mediaeval,  as  happened,  without  selection  and 
without  art.  Chaucer  is  the  first  who  broke  away  from  the 
dreary  traditional  style,  and  gave  not  merely  stories,  but  lively 
pictures  of  real  life  as  the  ever-renewed  substance  of  poetry. 
He  was  a  reformer,  too,  not  only  in  literature,  but  in  morals. 
But  as  in  the  former  his  exquisite  tact  saved  him  from  all 
eccentricity,  so  in  the  latter  the  pervading  sweetness  of  his 
nature  could  never  be  betrayed  into  harshness  and  invective. 
He  seems  incapable  of  indignation.  He  mused  good-naturedly 
over  the  vices  and  follies  of  men,  and,  never  forgetting  that  he 
was  fashioned  of  the  same  clay,  is  rather  apt  to  pity  than  con 
demn.  There  is  no  touch  of  cynicism  in  all  he  wrote.  Dante's 
brush  seems  sometimes  to  have  been  smeared  with  the  burning 
pitch  of  his  own  fiery  lake.  Chaucer's  pencil  is  dipped  in  the 
cheerful  color-box  of  the  old  illuminators,  and  he  has  their 
patient  delicacy  of  touch,  with  a  freedom  far  beyond  their 
somewhat  mechanic  brilliancy. 


176  Chaucer.  [July, 

English  narrative  poetry,  as  Chaucer  found  it,  though  it  had 
not  altogether  escaped  from  the  primal  curse  of  long-windedness 
so  painfully  characteristic  of  its  prototype,  the  French  Romance 
of  Chivalry,  had  certainly  shown  a  feeling  for  the  picturesque,  a 
sense  of  color,  a  directness  of  phrase,  and  a  simplicity  of  treat 
ment  which  give  it  graces  of  its  own  and  a  turn  peculiar  to  itself. 
In  the  easy  knack  of  story-telling,  the  popular  minstrels  cannot 
compare  with  Marie  de  France.  The  lightsomeness  of  fancy, 
that  leaves  a  touch  of  sunshine  and  is  gone,  is  painfully  missed 
in  them  all..  Their  incidents  enter  dispersedly,  as  the  old 
stage  directions  used  to  say,  and  they  have  not  learned  the  art 
of  concentrating  their  force  on  the  key-point  of  their  hearers' 
interest.  But  they  sometimes  yield  to  an  instinctive^  hint  of 
leaving-off  at  the  right  moment,  and  in  their  happy  negligence 
achieve  an  effect  only  to  be  matched  by  the  highest  successes 
of  art. 

u  That  lady  heard  his  mourning  all 
Right  under  her  chamber  wall, 
In  her  oriel  where  she  was, 
Closed  well  with  royal  glass ; 
Fulfilled  it  was  with  imagery 
Every  window,  by  and  by  ; 
On  each  side  had  there  a  gin 
Sperred  [closed]  with  many  a  divers  pin  ; 
Anon  that  lady  fair  and  free 
Undid  a  pin  of  ivory 
Arid  wide  the  window  she  open  set, — 
The  sun  shone  in  at  her  closet." 

It  is  true  the  old  rhymer  relapses  a  little  into  the  habitual 
drone  of  his  class,  and  shows  half  a  mind  to  bolt  into  their  com 
mon  inventory  style  when  he  comes  to  his  gins  and  pins,  but  he 
withstands  the  temptation  manfully,  and  his  sunshine  fills  our 
hearts  with  a  gush  as  sudden  as  that  which  illumines  the  lady's 
oriel.  Coleridge  and  Keats  have  each  in  his  way  felt  the  charm 
of  this  winsome  picture,  but  have  hardly  equalled  its  hearty  hon 
esty,  its  economy  of  material,  the  supreme  test  of  artistic  skill. 
I  admit  that  the  phrase  "had  there  a  gin"  is  suspicious,  and  sug 
gests  a  French  original,  but  I  remember  nothing  altogether  so 
good  in  the  romances  from  the  other  side  of  the  Channel.  One 
more  passage  occurs  to  me  almost  incomparable  in  its  simple 
straightforward  force  and  choice  of  the  right  word. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  177 

"  Sir  Graysteel  to  his  death  thus  thraws, 
He  welters  [wallows]  and  the  grass  updraws ; 

A  little  while  then  lay  he  still, 
(Friends  that  saw  him  liked  full  ill,) 

And  bled  into  his  armor  bright." 

» 

The  last  line,  for  suggestive  reticence,  almost  deserves  to  be 
put  beside  the  famous 

"  Quel  giorno  piii  non  vi  leggemmo  avante  " 

of  the  great  master  of  laconic  narration.  In  the  same  poem* 
the  growing  love  of  the  lady,  in  its  maidenliness  of  unconscious 
betrayal,  is  touched  with  a  delicacy  and  tact  as  surprising  as  they 
are  delightful.  But  such  passages,  which  are  the  despair  of  poets 
who  have  to  work  in  a  language  that  has  faded  into  diction,  are 
exceptional.  They  are  to  be  set  down  rather  to  good  luck  than 
art.  Even  the  stereotyped  similes  of  these  fortunate  illiterates, 
like  "  weary  as  water  in  a  weir,"  or  "  glad  as  grass  is  of  the  rain," 
are  new,  like  nature,  at  the  thousandth  repetition.  Perhaps  our 
palled  taste  overvalues  the  wild  flavor  of  these  wayside  treasure- 
troves.  They  are  wood-strawberries,  prized  in  proportion  as 
we  must  turn  over  more  leaves  ere  we  find  one.  This  popular 
literature  is  of  value  in  helping  us  toward  a  juster  estimate  of 
Chaucer  by  showing  what  the  mere  language  was  capable  of, 
and  that  all  it  wanted  was  a  poet  to  put  it  through  its  paces. 
For,  though  the  poems  I  have  quoted  be,  in  their  present  form, 
later  than  he,  they  are,  after  all,  but  modernized  versions  of 
older  copies,  which  they  doubtless  reproduce  with  substantial 
fidelity. 

It  is  commonly  assumed  that  Chaucer  did  for  English  what 
Dante  is  supposed  to  have  done  for  Italian  and  Luther  for  Ger 
man,  that  he,  in  short,  in  some  hitherto  inexplicable  way,  created 
it.  But  this  is  to  speak  loosely  and  without  book.  Languages 
are  never  made  in  any  such  fashion,  still  less  are  they  the 
achievement  of  any  single  man,  however  great  his  genius, 
however  powerful  his  individuality.  They  shape  themselves 
by  laws  as  definite  as  those  which  guide  and  limit  the  growth 
of  other  living  organisms.  Dante,  indeed,  has  told  us  that  he 
chose  to  write  in  the  tongue  that  might  be  learned  of  nurses 

*  Sir  Eger  and  Sir  Grim  in  the  Percy  Folio.     The  passage  quoted  is  from  Ellis. 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  12 


178  Chaucer. 

and  cliafferers  in  the  market.  His  practice  shows  that  he  knew 
perfectly  well  that  poetry  has  needs  which  cannot  be  answered 
by  the  vehicle  of  vulgar  commerce  between  man  and  man. 
What  he  instinctively  felt  was,  that  there  was  the  living  heart 
of  all  speech,  without  whose  help  the  brain  were  powerless  to 
send  will,  motion,  meaning,  to  the  limbs  and  extremities.  But 
it  is  true  that  a  language,  as  respects  the  uses  of  literature,  is 
liable  to  a  kind  of  syncope.  No  matter  how  complete  its 
vocabulary  may  be,  how  thorough  an  outfit  of  inflections  and 
case-endings  it  may  have,  it  is  a  mere  dead  body  without  a  soul 
till  some  man  of  genius  set  its  arrested  pulses  once  more  athrob, 
and  show  what  wealth  of  sweetness,  scorn,  persuasion,  and  pas 
sion  lay  there  awaiting  its  liberator.  In  this  sense  it  is  hardly 
too  much  to  say  that  Chaucer,  like  Dante,  found  his  native 
tongue  a  dialect  and  left  it  a  language.  But  it  was  not  what  he 
did  with  deliberate  purpose  of  reform,  it  was  his  kindly  and  plas 
tic  genius  that  wrought  this  magic  of  renewal  and  inspiration. 
It  was  not  the  new  words  he  introduced,*  but  his  way  of  using  the 
old  ones,  that  surprised  them  into  grace,  ease,  and  dignity  in 
their  own  despite.  In  order  to  feel  fully  how  much  he  achieved, 
let  any  one  subject  himself  to  a  penitential  course  of  reading  in 
his  contemporary,  Gower,  who  worked  in  a  material  to  all  intents 
and  purposes  the  same,  or  listen  for  a  moment  to  the  barbarous 
jangle  which  Lydgate  and  Occleve  contrive  to  draw  from  the 
instrument  their  master  had  tuned  so  deftly.  Gower  has  posi 
tively  raised  tediousness  to  the  precision  of  science,  he  has 
made  dulness  an  heirloom  for  the  students  of  our  literary  his 
tory.  As  you  slip  to  and  fro  on  the  frozen  levels  of  his  verse, 
which  give  no  foothold  to  the  mind,  as  your  nervous  ear  awaits 
the  inevitable  recurrence  of  his  rhyme,  regularly  pertinacious  as 
the  tick  of  an  eight-day  clock  and  reminding  you  of  Words 
worth's 

"  Once  more  the  ass  did  lengthen  out 
The  hard,  dry,  seesaw  of  his  horrible  bray,"  • 

you  learn  to  dread,  almost  to  respect,  the  powers  of  this  inde 
fatigable  man.  He  is  the  undertaker  of  the  fair  mediaeval 
legend,  and  his  style  has  the  hateful  gloss,  the  seemingly  un 
natural  length,  of  a  coffin.  Loye,  beauty,  passion,  nature,  art, 

#  I  think  he  tried  one  now  and  then,  like  "  even  columbine." 


1870.]  Chaucer.  179 

life,  the  natural  and  theological  virtues,  —  there  is  nothing  be 
yond  his  power  to  disenchant,  nothing  out  of  which  the  tremen 
dous  hydraulic  press  of  his  allegory  (or  whatever  it  is,  for  I  am 
not  sure  if  it  be  not  something  even  worse)  will  not  squeeze  all 
feeling  and  freshness  and  leave  it  a  juiceless  pulp.  It  matters 
not  where  you  try  him,  whether  his  story  be  Christian  or  pagan, 
borrowed  from  history  or  fable,  you  cannot  escape  him.  Dip  in 
at  the  middle  or  the  end,  dodge  back  to  the  beginning,  the  patient 
old  man  is  there  to  take  you  by  the  button  and  go  on  with  his 
imperturbable  narrative.  You  may  have  left  off  with  Clytem- 
nestra,  and  you  begin  again  with  Samson ;  it  makes  no  odds, 
for  you  cannot  tell  one  from  tother.  His  tediousness  is  omni 
present,  and  like  Dogberry  he  could  find  in  his  heart  to  bestow  it 
all  (and  more  if  he  had  it)  on  your  worship.  The  word  lengthy 
has  been  charged  to  our  American  account,  but  it  must  have 
been  invented  by  the  first  reader  of  Gower's  works,  the  only 
inspiration  of  which  they  were  ever  capable.  Our  literature 
had  to  lie  by  and  recruit  for  more  than  four  centuries  ere 
it  could  give  us  an  equal  vacuity  in  Tupper,  so  persistent  a 
uniformity  of  commonplace  in  the  Recreations  of  a  Country 
Parson.  Let  us  be  thankful  that  the  industrious  Gower 
never  found  time  for  recreation! 

But  a  fairer  as'  well  as  more  instructive  comparison  lies  be 
tween  Chaucer  and  the  author  of  Piers  Ploughman.  Langland 
has  as  much  tenderness,  as  much  interest  in  the  varied  picture 
of  life,  as  hearty  a  contempt  for  hypocrisy,  and  almost  an  equal 
sense  of  fun.  He  has  the  same  easy  abundance  of  matter.  But 
what  a  difference !  It  is  the  difference  between  the  poet  and 
the  man  of  poetic  temperament.  The  abundance  of  the  one  is 
a  continual  fulness  within  the  fixed  limits  of  good  taste  ;  that  of 
the  other  is  squandered  in  overflow.  The  one  can  be  profuse  on 
occasion  ;  the  other  is  diffuse  whether  he  will  or  no.  The  one 
is  full  of  talk ;  the  other  is  garrulous.  What  in  one  is  the  re 
fined  bonhomie  of  a  man  of  the  world,  is  a  rustic  shrewdness  in 
the  other.  Both  are  kindly  in  their  satire,  and  have  not  (like  too 
many  reformers)  that  vindictive  love  of  virtue  which  spreads 
the  stool  of  repentance  with  thistle-burrs  before  they  invite  the 
erring  to  seat  themselves  therein.  But  what  in  Piers  Plough 
man  is  sly  fun,  has  the  breadth  and  depth  of  humor  in  Chaucer ; 


180  Chaucer.  [July? 

and  it  is  plain  that  while  the  former  was  taken  up  by  his  moral 
purpose,  the  main  interest  of  the  latter  turned  to  perfecting 
the  form  of,  his  work.  In  short,  Chaucer  had  that  fine  literary 
sense  which  is  as  rare  as  genius,  and,  united  with  it,  as  it  was 
in  him,  assures  an  immortality  of  fame.  It  is  not  merely  what 
he  has  to  say,  but  even  more  the  agreeable  way  he  has  of  say 
ing  it,  that  captivates  our  attention  and  gives  him  an  assured 
place  in  literature.  Above  all,  it  is  not  in  detached  passages 
that  his  charm  lies,  but  in  the  entirety  of  expression  and  the 
cumulative  effect  of  many  particulars  working  toward  a  com 
mon  end.  Now  though  ex  ungue  leonem  be  a  good  rule  in 
comparative  anatomy,  its  application,  except  in  a  very  limited 
way,  in  criticism  is  sure  to  mislead  ;  for  we  should  always  bear 
in  mind  that  the  really  great  writer  is  great  in  the  mass,  and 
is  to 'be  tested  less  by  his  cleverness  in  the  elaboration  of  parts 
than  by  that  reach  of  mind  which  is  incapable  of  random  effort, 
which  selects,  arranges,  combines,  rejects,  denies  itself  the 
cheap  triumph  of  immediate  effects,  because  it  is  absorbed  by 
the  controlling  charm  of  proportion  and  unity.  A  careless 
good-luck  of  phrase  is  delightful ;  but  criticism  cleaves  to  the 
teleological  argument,  and  distinguishes  the  creative  intellect, 
not  so  much  by  any  happiness  of  natural  endowment  as  by  the 
marks  of  design.  It  is  true  that  one  may  sometimes  discover 
by  a  single  verse  whether  an  author  have  imagination,  or  may 
make  a  shrewd  guess  whether  he  have  style  or  no,  just  as  by 
a  few  spoken  words  you  may  judge  of  a  man's  accent ;  but  the 
true  artist  in  language  is  never  spotty,  and  needs  no  guide- 
boards  of  admiring  italics,  a  critical  method  introduced  by 
Leigh  Hunt,  whose  feminine  temperament  gave  him  acute  per 
ceptions  at  the  expense  of  judgment.  This  is  the  Breotian 
method,  which  offers  us  a  brick  as  a  sample  of  the  house,  for 
getting  that  it  is  not  the  goodness  of  the  separate  bricks,  but 
the  way  in  which  they  are  put  together,  that  brings  them  within 
the  province  of  art,  and  makes  the  difference  between  a  heap 
and  a  house.  A  great  writer  does  not  reveal  himself  here 
and  there,  but  everywhere.  Langland's  verse  runs  mostly  like 
a  brook,  with  a  beguiling  and  wellnigh  slumberous  prattle, 
but  he,  more  often  than  any  writer  of  his  class,  flashes  into 
salient  lines,  gets  inside  our  guard  with  the  home-thrust  of  a 


1870.]  Chaucer.  181 

forthright  word,  and  he  gains  if  taken  piecemeal.  His  im 
agery  is  naturally  and  vividly  picturesque,  as  where  he  says 

of  Old  Age,— 

"  Eld  the  hoar 

That  was  in  the  vauntward, 
And  bare  the  banner  before  death,"  — 

and  he  softens  to  a  sweetness  of  sympathy  beyond  Chaucer 
when  he  speaks  of  the  poor  or  tells  us  that  Mercy  is  "  sib  of 
all  sinful " ;  but  to  compare  Piers  Ploughman  with  the  Can 
terbury  Tales  is  to  compare  sermon  with  song. 

Let  us  put  a  bit  of  Langland's  satire  beside  one  of  Chau 
cer's.  Some  people  in  search  of  Truth  meet  a  pilgrim  and  ask 
him  whence  he  comes.  He  gives  a  long  list  of  holy  places, 
appealing  for  proof  to  the  relics  on  his  hat :  — 

"'I  have  walked  full  wide  in  wet  and  in  dry 
And  sought  saints  for  my  soul's  health.' 
1  Know'st  thou  ever  a  relic  that  is  called  Truth  ? 
Couldst  thou  show  us  the  way  where  that  wight  dwelleth  ? ' 
'Nay,  so  God  help  me,'  said  the  man  then, 
'  I  saw  never  palmer  with  staff  nor  with  scrip 
Ask  after  him  ever  till  now  in  this  place.'  " 

This  is  a  good  hit,  and  the  poet  is  satisfied  ;  but,  in  what  I  am 
going  to  quote  from  Chaucer,  everything  becomes  picture,  over 
which  lies  broad  and  warm  the  sunshine  of  humorous  fancy. 

"  In  olde  daye's  of  the  King  Artour 
Of  which  that  Britouns  speken  gret  honour, 
All  was  this  lond  fulfilled  of  fayerie  : 
The  elf-queen  with  her  joly  compaignie 
Danced  ful  oft  in  many  a  grene  mede  : 
This  was  the  old  opinion- as  I  rede  ; 
I  speke  of  many  hundrid  yer  ago : 
But  now  can  no  man  see  none  elves  mo, 
For  now  the  grete  charite  and  pray e' res 
Of  lymytours  and  other  holy  freres 
That  sechen  every  lond  and  every  streem, 
As  thick  as  motis  in  the  sonnebeam, 
Blessyng  halles,  chambres,  kichenes,  and  boures, 
Citees  and  burghes,  castels  hihe  and  toures, 
Thorpes  and  bernes,  shepnes  and  dayeries, 
This  makith  that  ther  ben  no  fayeries. 
For  ther  as  wont  to  walken  was  an  elf 
There  walkith  none  but  the  lymytour  himself, 
In  undermeles  and  in  morwenynges, 


182  Chaucer.  [July, 

And  sayth  his  matyns  and  his  holy  thinges, 
As  he  goth  in  his  lymytatioun. 
Wommen  may  now  go  saufly  up  and  doun  ; 
In  every  bush  or  under  every  tre 
There  is  none  other  incubus  but  he, 
And  he  ne  wol  doon  hem  no  dishonour." 

How  cunningly  the  contrast  is  suggested  here  between  the  Elf- 
queen's  jolly  company  and  the  unsocial  limiters,  thick  as  motes 
in  the  sunbeam,  yet  each  walking  by  himself!  Even  Shake 
speare,  who  seems  to  come  in  after  everybody  has  done  his  best 
with  a  "  Let  me  take  hold  a  minute  and  show  you  how  to  do 
it,"  could  not  have  bettered  this. 

Piers  Ploughman  is  the  best  example  I  know  of  what  is  called 
popular  poetry,  —  of  compositions,  that  is,  which  contain  all  the 
simpler  elements  of  poetry,  but  still  in  solution,  not  crystallized 
around  any  thread  of  artistic  purpose.  In  it  appears  at  her 
best  the  Anglo-Saxon  Muse,  a  first  cousin  of  Poor  Richard,  full 
of  proverbial  wisdom,  who  always  brings  her  knitting  in  her 
pocket,  and  seems  most  at  home  in  the  chimney-corner.  It  is 
genial ;  it  plants  itself  firmly  on  human  nature  with  its  rights 
and  wrongs  ;  it  has  a  surly  honesty,  prefers-  the  downright  to 
the  gracious,  and  conceives  of  speech  as  a  tool  rather  than  a 
musical  instrument.,  If  we  should  seek  for  a  single  word  that 
would  define  it  most  precisely,  we  should  not  choose  simplici 
ty,  but  homeliness.  There  is  more  or  less  of  this  in  all  early 
poetry,  to  be  sure  ;  but  I  think  it  especially  proper  to  English 
poets,  and  to  the  most  English  among  them,  like*  Cowper, 
Crabbe,  and  one  is  tempted  to  add  Wordsworth,  —  where  he 
forgets  Coleridge's  private  lectures.  In  reading  such  poets  as 
Langland,  also,  we  are  not  to  forget  a  certain  charm  of  dis 
tance  in  the  very  language  they  use,  making  it  unhackneyed 
without  being  alien.  As  it  is  the  chief  function  of  the  poet  to 
make  the  familiar  novel,  these  fortunate  early  risers  of  litera 
ture,  who  gather  phrases  with  the  dew  still  on  them,  have 
their  poetry  done  for  them,  as  it  were,  by  their  vocabulary. 
But  in  Chaucer,  as  in  all  great  poets,  the  language  gets  its 
charm  from  him.  The  force  and  sweetness  of  his  genius 
kneaded  more  kindly  together  the  Latin  and  Teutonic  ele 
ments  of  our  mother-tongue,  and  made  something  better  than 


1870.]  Chaucer.  '  183 

either.  The  necessity  of  writing  poetry,  and  not  mere  verse, 
made  him  a  reformer  whether  he  would  or  no ;  and  the  in 
stinct  of  his  finer  ear  was  a  guide  such  as  none  before  him 
or  contemporary  with  him,  nor  indeed  any  that  came  after 
him,  till  Spenser,  could  command.  Gower  had  no  notion  of 
the  uses  of  rhyme  except  as  a  kind  of  crease  at  the  end  of 
every  eighth  syllable,  where  the  verse  was  to  be  folded  over 
again  into  another  layer.  He  says,  for  example, 

"  This  maiden  Canacee  was  bight, 
Both  in  the  day  and  eke  by  night," 

as  if  people  commonly  changed  their  names  at  dark.  And  he 
could  not  even  contrive  to  say  this  without  the  clumsy  pleo 
nasm  of  both  and  eke.  -Chaucer  was  put  to  no  such  shifts  of 
piecing  out  his  metre  with  loose-woven  bits  of  baser  stuff.  He 
himself  says,  in  the  Man  of  Law's  Tale, — 

"  Me  lists  not  of  the  chaff  nor  of  the  straw 
To  make  so  long  a  tale  as  of  the  corn." 

One  of  the  world's  three  or  four  great  story-tellers,  he  was  also 
one  of  the  best  versifiers  that  ever  made  English  trip'  and  sing 
with  a  gayety  that  seems  careless,  but  where  every  foot  beats 
time  to  the  tune  of  the  thought.  By  the  skilful  arrangement 
of  his  pauses  he  evaded  the  monotony  of  the  couplet,  and  gave 
to  the  rhymed  pentameter,  which  he  made  our  heroic  measure, 
something  of  the  architectural  repose  of  blank  verse.  He  found 
our  language  lumpish,  stiff,  unwilling,  too  apt  to  speak  Saxonly 
in  grouty  monosyllables ;  he  left  it  enriched  with  the  longer 
measure  of  the  Italian  and  Provencal  poets.  He  reconciled,  in 
the  harmony  of  his  verse,  the  English  bluntness  with  the  dig 
nity  and  elegance  of  the  less  homely  Southern  speech.  Though 
he  did  not  and  could  not  create  our  language  (for  he  who  writes 
to  be  read  does  not  write  for  linguisters),  yet  it  is  true  that  he 
first  made  it  easy,  and  to  that  extent  modern,  so  that  Spenser, 
two  hundred  years  later,  studied  his  method  and  called  him 
master.  He  first  wrote  English;  and  it  was  a  feeling  of  this, 
I  suspect,  that  made  it  fashionable  in  Elizabeth's  day  to  "  talk 
pure  Chaucer."  Already  we  find  in  his  works  verses  that 
might  pass  without  question  in  Milton  or  even  Wordsworth, 
so  mainly  unchanged  have  the  language  of  poetry  and  the 
movement  of  verse  remained  from  his  day  to  our  own. 


184  Chaucer.  [July, 

"  Thou  Polymnia 

On  Pernaso,  that,  with  *  thy  sisters  glad, 
By  Helicon,  not  far  from  Cirrea, 
Singest  with  voice  memorial  in  the  shade, 
Under  the  laurel  which  that  may  not  fade." 

"  And  downward  from  a  hill  under  a  bent 
There  stood  the  temple  of  Mars  omnipotent 
Wrought  all  of  burned  steel,  of  which  th'  entree 
Was  long  and  strait  and  ghastly  for  to  see  : 
The  northern  light  in  at  the  doores  shone 
For  window  in  the  wall  ne  was  there  none 
Through  which  men  mighten  any  light  discerne  ; 
The  dore  was  all  of  adamant  eterne." 

And  here  are  some  lines  that  would  not  seem  out  of  place  in- 
the'  Paradise  of  Dainty  Devises :  — 

"  Hide,  Absolom,  thy  gilte  [gilded]  tresses  clear, 
Esther  lay  thou  thy  meekness  all  adown. 

Make  of  your  wifehood  no  comparison  ; 
Hide  ye  your  beauties  Ysoude  and  Elaine, 
My  lady  cometh,  that  all  this  may  distain." 

When  I  remember  Chaucer's  malediction  upon  his  scrivener, 
and  consider  that  by  far  the  larger  proportion  of  his  verses 
(allowing  always  for  change  of  pronunciation)  are  perfectly 
accordant  with  our  present  accentual  system,  I  cannot  believe 
that  he  ever  wrote  an  imperfect  line.  •  His  ear  would  never 
have  tolerated  the  verses  of  nine  syllables,  with  a  strong  ac 
cent  on  the  first,  attributed  to  him  by  Mr.  Skeate  and  Mr. 
Morris.  Such  verses  seem  to  me  simply  impossible  in  the 
pentameter  iambic  as  Chaucer  wrote  it.  A  great  deal  of  mis 
apprehension  would  be  avoided  in  discussing  English  metres, 
if  it  were  only  understood  that  quantity  in  Latin  and  quan 
tity  in  English  mean  very  different  things.  Perhaps  the  best 
quantitative  verses  in  our  language  (even  better  than  Cole 
ridge's)  are  to  be  found  in  Mother  Goose,  composed  by  nurses 
wholly  by  ear  and  beating  time  as  they  danced  the  baby  on 
their  knee.  I  suspect  Chaucer  and  Shakespeare  would  be  sur 
prised  into  a  smile  by  the  learned  arguments  which  supply 
their  halting  verses  with  every  kind  of  excuse  except  that  of 

*  Commonly  printed  hath. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  185 

being  readable.  When  verses  were  written  to  be  chanted,  more 
license  could  be  granted,  for  the  ear  tolerates  the  widest 
deviations  from  habitual  accent  in  words  that  are  sung. 
Segnius  irritant  demissa  per  aurem.  To  some  extent  the 
same  thing  is  true  of  anapaestic  and  other  tripping  measures, 
but  we  cannot  admit  it  in  marching  tunes  like  those  of 
Chaucer.  He  wrote  for  the  eye  more  than  for  the  voice,  as 
poets  had  begun  to  do  long  before.*  Some  loose  talk  of  Cole 
ridge,  loose  in  spite  of  its  affectation  of  scientific  precision, 
about  "  retardations "  and  the  like,  has  misled  many  honest 
persons  into  believing  that  they  can  make  good  verse  out  of 
bad  prose.  Coleridge  himself,  from  natural  fineness  of  ear, 
was  the  best  metrist  among  modern  English  poets,  and,  read 
with  proper  allowances,  his  remarks  upon  versification  are 
always  instructive  to  whoever  is  not  rhythm-deaf.  But  one 
"has  no  patience  with  the  dyspondaeuses,  the  paeon  primuses, 
and  what  not,  with  which  he  darkens  verses  that  are  to  be 
explained  only  by  the  contemporary  habits  of  pronunciation. 
Till  after  the  time  of  Shakespeare  we  must  always  bear  in 
mind  that  it  is  not  a  language  of  books  but  of  living  speech 
that  we  have  to  deal  with.  Of  this  language  Coleridge  had 
little  knowledge,  except  what  could  be  acquired  through  the 
ends  of  his  fingers  as  they  lazily  turned  the  leaves  of  his  hap 
hazard  reading.  If  his  eye  was  caught  by  a  single  passage 
that  gave  him  a  chance  to  theorize  he  did  not  look  farther. 
Speaking  of  Massinger,  for  example,  he  says,  "  When  a  speech 
is  interrupted,  or  one  of  the  characters  speaks  aside,  the  last 

*  Froissart's  description  of  the  book  of  traite's  amoureux  et  de  moralite,  which 
he  had  had  engrossed  for  presentation  to  Richard  II.  in  1394,  is  enough  to  bring 
tears  to  the  eyes  of  a  modern  author.  "  Et  lui  plut  tres  grandement ;  et  plaire  bien 
lui  devoit  car  il  etait  enlumine',  ecrit  et  historic  et  couvert  de  vermeil  velours  a  dis 
cloux  d'argent  dores  d'or,  et  roses  d'or  au  milieu,  et  a  deux  grands  fremaulx  dores 
et  richement  ouvre's  aa  milieu  de  rosiers  d'or."  How  lovingly  he  lingers  over  it, 
hooking  it  together  with  et  after  et !  But  two  centuries  earlier,  while  the  jongleurs 
were  still  in  full  song,  poems  were  also  read  aloud. 

"  Pur  remembrer  des  ancessours 
Les  faits  et  les  dits  et  les  mours, 
Deit  Ten  les  livres  et  les  gestes 
Et  les  estoires  lire  afestes." 

Roman  du  Rou. 

But  Chaucer  wrote  for  the  private  reading  of  the  closet. 


186  Chaucer. 

syllable  of  the  former  speech  and  first  of  the  succeeding  Mas- 
singer  counts  for  one,  because  both  are  supposed  to  be  spoken 
at  the  same  moment. 

*  And  felt  the  sweetness  oft 

'  How  her  mouth  runs  over.' " 

Now  fifty  instances  may  be  cited  from  Massinger  which  tell 
against  this  fanciful  notion,  for  one  that  seems,  and  only 
seems,  in  its  favor.  Any  one  tolerably  familiar  with  the 
dramatists  knows  that  in  the  passage  quoted  by  Coleridge, 
the  how  being  emphatic,  "  how  heir  "  was  pronounced  how  V. 
He  tells  us  that  "  Massinger  is  fond  of  the  anapa3st  in  the 
first  and  third  foot,  as :  — 

.*  To  your  more  |  than  mas'culine  rea]son  that  |  commands  'em  ||.' 

Likewise  of  the  second  paeon  (_  _  _  J)  in  the  first  foot,  followed 
by  four  trochees  (-~),  as  :  — 

'So  greedily  [  long  for,  |  know  their  |  titill|ations.'  " 

In  truth,  he  was  no  fonder  of  them  than  his  brother  dramatists 
who,  like  him,  wrote  for  the  voice  by  the  ear.  "  To  your  "  is 
still  one  syllable  in  ordinary  speech,  and  "  masculine  "  and 
"  greedily  "  were  and  are  dissyllables  or  trisyllables  accord 
ing  to  their  place  in  the  verse.  Coleridge  was  making  ped 
antry  of  a  very  simple  matter.  Yet  he  has  said  with  per 
fect  truth  of  Chaucer's  verse,  "  Let  a  few  plain  rules  be  given 
for  sounding  the  final  e  of  syllables,  and  for  expressing  the 
terminations  of  such  words  as  ocean  and  nation,  &c.,  as  dis 
syllables,  —  or  let  the  syllables  to  be  sounded  in  such  cases 
be  marked  by  a  competent  metrist.  This  simple  expedient 
would,  with  a  very  few  trifling  exceptions,  where  the  errors 
are  inveterate,  enable  any  one  to  feel  the  perfect  smoothness 
and  harmony  of  Chaucer's  verse."  But  let  us  keep  widely 
clear  of  Latin  and  Greek  terms  of  prosody !  It  is  also  more 
important  here  than  even  with  the  dramatists  of  Shakespeare's 
time  to  remember  that  we  have  to  do  with  a  language  caught 
more  from  the  ear  than  from  books.  The  best  school  for  learn 
ing  to  understand  Chaucer's  elisions,  compressions,  slurrings- 
over  and  running-together  of  syllables  is  to  listen  to  the  habitual 
speech  of  rustics  with  whom  language  is  still  plastic  to  mean 
ing,  and  hurries  or  prolongs  itself  accordingly.  Here  is  a  con- 


1870.]  *  Chaucer.  187 

traction  frequent  in  Chaucer,  and  still  common  in  New  Eng 
land: 

"  But  me  were  lever  than  [lever  'n]  all  this  town,  quod  he." 

Let  one  example  suffice  for  many.  To  Coleridge's  rules  an 
other  should  be  added  by  a  wise  editor  ;  and  that  is  to  restore 
the  final  n  in  the  infinitive  and  third  person  plural  of  verbs, 
and  in  such  other  cases  as  can  be  justified  by  the  authority  of 
Chaucer  himself.  Surely  his  ear  could  never  have  endured  the 
sing-song  of  such  verses  as 

"  I  couthe  telle  for  a  gowne-cloth," 
or 

"  Than  ye  to  me  schuld  breke  youre  trouthe." 

Chaucer's  measure  is  so  uniform  (making  due  allowances)  that* 
words  should  be  transposed  or  even  omitted  where  the  verse 
manifestly  demands  it,  —  and  with  copyists  so  long  and  dull 
of  ear  this  is  often  the  case.     Sometimes  they  leave  out  a 
needful  word :  — 

"  But  er  [the]  thunder  stynte,  there  cometh  rain/' 
"  When  [that]  we  ben  yflattered  and  ypraised," 
"  Tak  [ye]  him  for  the  greatest  gentleman." 

Sometimes  they  thrust  in  a  word  or  words  that  hobble  the 

verse :  — 

"  She  trowed  he  were  yfel  in  [some]  maladie," 

"  Ye  faren  like  a  man  [that]  had  lost  his  wit," 

"  Then  have  I  got  of  you  the  maystrie,  quod  she," 

(Then  have  I  got  the  maystery,  quod  she,) 

"  And  quod  the  juge  [also]  thou  must  lose  thy  head." 

Sometimes  they  give  a  wrong  word  identical  in  meaning :  — 

"  And  therwithal  he  knew  [couthe]  -no  proverbes." 

Sometimes  they  change  the  true  order  of  the  words :  — 

"  Therefore  no  woman  of  clerk e's  is  [is  of  clerkes]  praised ' 
"  His  felaw  lo,  here  he  stont  [stont  he]  hool  on  live." 

"  He  that  coveteth  is  a  pore  wight 
For  he  wold  have  that  is  not  in  his  might ; 
But  he  that  nought  hath  ne  coveteth  nought  to  have." 

Here  the  "  but "  of  the  third  verse  belongs  at  the  head  of  the 
first,  and  we  get  rid  of  the  anomaly  of  "  coveteth  "  differently 
accented  within  two  lines.  Nearly  all  the  seemingly  unmetri- 
cal  verses  may  be  righted  in  this  way.  One  often  finds  such 
changes  made  by  ear  justified  by  the  readings  in  other  texts, 


Chaucer.  [July, 

and  we  cannot  but  hope  that  the  Chaucer  Society  will  give  us 
the  means  of  at  last  settling  upon  a  version  which  shall  make 
the  poems  of  one  of  the  most  fluent  of  metrists  at  least  read 
able.  Let  any  one  compare  the  Franklin's  Tale  in  the  Aldine 
edition  with  the  text  given  by  Wright,  and  he  will  find  both 
sense  and  metre  clear  themselves  up  in  a  surprising  way.  A 
careful  collation  of  texts,  by  the  way,  confirms  one's  confidence 
in  Tyrwhytt's  good  taste  and  thoroughness. 

I  will  give  one  more  example  of  his  verse,  again  making  my 
selection  from  one  of  his  less  mature  works.  He  is  speaking 
of  Tarquin :  — 

"  And  ay  the  more  he  was  in  despair 
The  more  he  coveted  and  thought  her  fair ; 
His  blinde  lust  was  all  his  coveting. 
On  morrow  when  the  bird  began  to  sing 
Unto  the  siege  he  cometh  full  privily 
And  by  himself  he  walketh  soberly 
The  image  of  her  recording  alway  new  : 
Thus  lay  her  hair,  and  thus  fresh  was  her  hue, 
Thus  sate,  thus  spake,  thus  span,  this  was  her  cheer, 
Thus  fair  she  was,  and  this  was  her  manere. 
All  this  conceit  his  heart  hath  new  ytake, 
And  as  the  sea,  with  tempest  all  toshake, 
That  after,  when  the  storm  is  all  ago, 
Yet  will  the  water  quap  a  day  or  two, 
Right  so,  though  that  her  forme  were  absent, 
The  pleasance  of  her  forme  was  present." 

And  this  passage  leads  me  to  say  a  few  words  of  Chaucer 
as  a  descriptive  poet ;  for  I  think  it  a  great  mistake  to  at 
tribute  to  him  any  properly  dramatic  power,  as  some  have 
done.  Even  Herr  Hertzberg,  in  his  remarkably  intelligent 
essay,  is  led  a  little  astray  on  this  point  by  his  enthusiasm. 
Chaucer  is  a  great  narrative  poet ;  and,  in  this  species  of 
poetry,  though  the  author's  personality  should  never  be  ob 
truded,  it  yet  unconsciously  pervades  the  whole,  and  com 
municates  an  individual  quality,  —  a  kind  of  flavor  of  its 
own.  This  very  quality,  and  it  is  one  of  the  highest  in  its 
way  and  place,  would  be  fatal  to  all  dramatic  force.  The 
narrative  poet  is  occupied  with  his  characters  as  picture,  with 
their  grouping,  even  their  costume,  it  may  be,  and  he  feels  for 
and  with  them  instead  of  being  they  for  the  moment,  as  the 


1870.]  Chaucer.  189 

dramatist  must  always  be.  The  story-teller  must  possess  the 
situation  perfectly  in  all  its  details,  while  the  imagination  of 
the  dramatist  must  be  possessed  and  mastered  by  it.  The 
latter  puts  before  us  the  very  passion  or  emotion  itself  in  its 
utmost  intensity  ;  the  former  gives  them,  not  in  their  primary 
form,  but  in  that  derivative  one  which  they  have  acquired  by 
passing  through  his  own  mind  and  being  modified  by  his  re 
flection.  The  deepest  pathos  of  the  drama,  like  the  "  prithee, 
undo  this  button  "  with  which  Shakespeare  tells  us  that  Lear's 
heart  is  bursting,  is  sudden  as  a  stab,  while  in  narrative  it  is 
more  or  less  suffused  with  pity,  —  a  feeling  capable  of  pro 
longed  sustention.  This  presence  of  the  author's  own  sym 
pathy  is  noticeable  in  all  Chaucer's  pathetic  passages,  as,  for 
instance,  in  the  lamentation  of  Constance  over  her  child  in  the 
Man  of  Law's  Tale.  When  he  comes  to  the  sorrow  of  his 
story,  he  seems  to  croon  over  his  thoughts,  to  soothe  them 
and  dwell  upon  them  with  a  kind  of  pleased  compassion,  as 
a  child  treats  a  wounded  bird  which  he  fears  to  grasp  too 
tightly,  and  yet  cannot  make  up  his  heart  wholly  to  let  go. 
It  is  true  also  of  his  humor  that  it  pervades  his  comic  tales 
like  sunshine,  and  never  dazzles  the  attention  by  a  sudden 
flash.  Sometimes  he  brings  it  in  parenthetically,  and  insinu 
ates  a  sarcasm  so  slyly  as  almost  to  slip  by  without  our  notice, 
as  where  he  satirizes  provincialism  by  the  cock 

"  Who  knew  by  nature  each  ascension 
Of  the  equinoctial  in  his  native  town." 

Sometimes  he  turns  round  upon  himself  and  smiles  at  a  trip 
he  has  made  into  fine  writing :  — 

"  Till  that  the  brighte  sun  had  lost  his  hue, 
For  th'  orisont  had  reft  the  sun  his  light, 
(This  is  as  much  to  sayen  as  '  it  was  night.')" 

Nay,  sometimes  it  twinkles  roguishly  through  his  very  tears,  as 

in  the 

«  « Why  wouldest  thou  be  dead,'  these  women  cry, 
4  That  haddest  gold  enough  —  and  Emily  ? ' " 

that  follows  so  close  upon  the  profoundly  tender  despair  of 
Arcite's  farewell:  — 

"  What  is  this  world  ?     What  asken  men  to  have  ? 
Now  with  his  love  now  in  the  colde  grave 
Alone  withouten  any  company ! " 


190  Chaucer.  [July, 

The  power  of  diffusion  without  being  diffuse  would  seem  to  be 
the  highest  merit  of  narration,  giving  it  that  easy  flow  which 
is  so  delightful.  Chaucer's  descriptive  style  is  remarkable  for 
its  lowness  of  tone,  —  for  that  combination  of  energy  with  sim 
plicity  which  is  among  the  rarest  gifts  in  literature.  Perhaps 
all  is  said  in  saying  that  he  has  style  at  all,  for  that  consists 
mainly  in  the  absence  of  undue  emphasis  and  exaggeration, 
in  the  clear  uniform  pitch  which  penetrates  our  interest  and 
retains  it,  where  mere  loudness  would  only  disturb  and  irritate. 
Not  that  Chaucer  cannot  be  intense,  too,  on  occasion  ;  but  it 
is  with  a  quiet  intensity  of  his  own,  that  comes  in  as  it  were  by 
accident. 

"  Upon  a  thicke  palfrey,  paper-white, 
With  saddle  red  embroidered  with  delight, 
Sits  Dido  : 

And  she  is  fair  as  is  the  brighte  morrow 
That  healeth  sicke  folk  of  nightes  sorrow. 
Upon  a  courser  startling  as  the  fire, 
JEneas  sits." 

Pandarus,  looking  at  Troiliis, 

"  Took  up  a  light  and  found  his  countenance 
As  for  to  look  upon  an  old  romance." 

With  Chaucer  it  is  always  the  thing  itself  and  not  the  descrip 
tion  of  it  that  is.  the  main  object.  His  picturesque  bits  are  in 
cidental  to  the  story,  glimpsed  in  passing ;  they  never  stop  the 
way.  His  key  is  so  low  that  his  high  lights  are  never  ob 
trusive.  His  imitators,  like  Leigh  Hunt,  and  Keats  in  his 
Endymion,  missing  the  nice  gradation  with  which  the  mas 
ter  toned  everything  down,  become  streaky.  Hogarth,  who 
reminds  one  of  him  in  the  variety  and  natural  action  of  his 
figures,  is  like  him  also  in  the  subdued  brilliancy  of  his  color 
ing.  When  Chaucer  condenses,  it  is  because  his  conception  is 
vivid.  He  does  not  need  to  personify  Revenge,  for  personifica 
tion  is  but  the  subterfuge  of  unimaginative  and  professional 
poets ;  but  he  embodies  the  very  passion  itself  in  a  verse  that 
makes  us  glance  over  our  shoulder  as  if  we  heard  a  stealthy 
tread  behind  us :  — 

"  The  smiler  with  the  knife  hid  under  the  cloak."  * 
*  Compare  this  with  the  Mumbo-Jumbo  Revenge  in  Collins's  Ode. 


1870.1  Chaucer.  191 

j  « 

And  yet  how  unlike  is  the  operation  of  the  imaginative  faculty 
in  him  and  Shakespeare  !  When  the  latter  describes,  his  epi 
thets  imply  always  an  impression  on  the  moral  sense  (so  to 
speak)  of  the  person  who  hears  or  sees.  The  sun  "  flatters 
the  mountain-tops  with  sovereign  eye  "  ;  the  bending  "  weeds 
lacquey  the  dull  stream  "  ;  the  shadow  of  the  falcon  u  couch eth 
the  fowl  below "  ;  the  smoke  is  "  helpless  " ;  when  Tarquin 
enters  the  chamber  of  Lucrece  "  the  threshold  grates  the  door 
to  have  him  heard."  His  outward  sense  is  merely  a  window 
through  which  the  metaphysical  eye  looks  forth,  and  his  mind 
passes  over  at  once  from  the  simple  sensation  to  the  complex 
meaning  of  it,  —  feels  with  the  object  instead  of  merely  feel 
ing  it.  His  imagination  is  forever  dramatizing.  Chaucer  gives 
only  the  direct  impression  made  on  the  eye  or  ear.  He  was 
the  first  great  poet  who  really  loved  outward  nature  as  the 
source  of  conscious  pleasurable  emotion.  The  Troubadour 
hailed  the  return  of  spring ;  but  with  him  it  was  a  piece  of 
empty  ritualism.  Chaucer  took  a  true  delight  in  the  new- 
green  of  the  leaves  and  the  return  of  singing  birds,  —  a  de 
light  as  simple  as  that  of  Robin  Hood  :  — 

"  In  summer  when  the  shaws  be  sheen 

And  leaves  be  large  and  long, 
It  is  full  merry  in  fair  forest 
To  hear  the  small  birds'  song." 

He  has  never  so  much  as  heard  of  the  "  burthen  and  the  mys 
tery  of  all  this  unintelligible  world."  His  flowers  and  trees 
and  birds  have  never  bothered  themselves  with  Spinoza.  He 
himself  sings  more  like  a  bird  than  any  other  poet,  because  it 
never  occurred  to  him,  as  to  Goethe,  that  he  ought  to  do  so. 
He  pours  himself  out  in  sincere  joy  and  thankfulness.  When 
we  compare  Spenser's  imitations  of  him  with  the  original  pas 
sages  we  feel  that  the  delight  of  the  lat(er  poet  was  more  in  the 
expression  than  the  thing  itself.  Nature  with  him  is  only  good 
to  be  transfigured  by  art.  We  walk  among  Chaucer's  sights  and 
sounds  ;  we  listen  to  Spenser's  musical  reproduction  of  them. 
In  the  same  way,  the  pleasure  which  Chaucer  takes  in  telling  his 
stories  has  in  itself  the  effect  of  consummate  skill,  and  makes 
us  follow  all  the  windings  of  his  fancy  with  sympathetic  inter 
est.  His  best  tales  run  on  like  one  of  our  inland  rivers,  some- 


192  Chaucer.  [July? 

times  hastening  a  little  and  turning  upon  themselves  in  eddies 
that  dimple  without  retarding  the  current;  sometimes  loiter 
ing  smoothly,  while  here  and  there  a  quiet  thought,  a  tender 
feeling,  a  pleasant  image,  a  golden-hearted  verse,  opens  quietly 
as  a  water-lily,  to  float  on  the  surface  without  breaking  it  into 
ripple.  The  vulgar  intellectual  palate  hankers  after  the  titil- 
lation  of  foaming  phrase,  and  thinks  nothing  good  for  much 
that  does  not  go  off  with  a  pop  like  a  champagne  cork.  The 
mellow  suavity  of  more  precious  vintages  seems  insipid  ;  but 
the  taste,  in  proportion  as  it  refines,  learns  to  appreciate  the 
indefinable  flavor,  too  subtile  for  analysis.  A  manner  has  pre 
vailed  of  late  in  which  every  other  word  seems  to  be  under 
scored  as  in  a  school-girl's  letter.  The  poet  seems  intent  on 
showing  his  sinew,  as  if  the  power  of  the  slim  Apollo  lay  in 
the  girth  of  his  biceps.  Force  for  the  mere  sake  of  force  ends 
like  Milo,  caught  and  held  mockingly  fast  by  the  recoil  of  the 
log  he  undertook  to  rive.  In  the  race  of  fame,  there  are  a 
score  capable  of  brilliant  spurts  for  one  who  comes  in  winner 
after  a  steady  pull  with  wind  and  muscle  to  spare.  Chaucer 
never  shows  any  signs  of  effort,  and  it  is  a  main  proof  of  his 
excellence  that  he  can  be  so  inadequately  sampled  by  detached 
passages,  —  by  single  lines  taken  away  from  the  connection  in 
which  they  contribute  to  the  general  effect.  He  has  that  con 
tinuity  of  thought,  that  evenly  prolonged  power,  and  that  de 
lightful  equanimity,  which  characterize  the  higher  orders  of 
mind.  There  is  something  in  him  of  the  disinterestedness 
that  made  the  Greeks  masters  in  art.  His  phrase  is  never 
importunate.  His  simplicity  is  that  of  elegance,  not  of  poverty. 
The  quiet  unconcern  with  which  he  says  his  best  things  is 
peculiar  to  him  among  English  poets,  though  Goldsmith,  Addi- 
son,  and  Thackeray  have  approached  it  in  prose.  He  prattles 
inadvertently  away,  and  all  the  while,  like  the  princess  in  the 
story,  lets  fall  a  pearl  at  every  other  word.  It  is  such  a  piece 
of  good  luck  to  be  natural !  It  is  the  good  gift  which  the  fairy 
godmother  brings  to  her  prime  favorites  in  the  cradle.  If  "not 
genius,  it  is  alone  what  makes  genius  amiable  in  the  arts.  If 
a  man  have  it  not,  he  will  never  find  it,  for  when  it  is  sought 
it  is  gone. 

When  Chaucer  describes  anything  it  is  commonly  by  one  of 


1870.]  Chaucer.  193 

those  simple  and  obvious  epithets  or  qualities  that  are  so  easy 
to  miss.  Is  it  a  woman  ?  He  tells  us  she  is  fresh  ;  that  she  has 
glad  eyes  ;  that  "  every  day  Jier  beauty  newed  "  ;  that 

"  Methought  all  fellowship  as  naked 
Withouten  her  that  I  saw  once, 
As  a  cordne  without  the  stones." 

Sometimes  he  describes  amply  by  the  merest  hint,  as  where  the 
Friar,  before  setting  himself  softly  down,  drives  away  the  cat. 
We  know  without  need  of  more  words  that  he  has  chosen  the 
snuggest  corner.  In  some  of  his  early  poems  he  sometimes,  it 
is  true,  falls  into  the  catalogue  style  of  his  contemporaries  ; 
but  after  he  had  found  his  genius  he  never  particularizes  too 
much,  —  a  process  as  deadly  to  all  effect  as  an  explanation  to 
a  pun.  The  first  stanza  of  the  Clerk's  Tale  gives  us  a  land 
scape  whose  stately  choice  of  objects  shows  a  skill  in  com 
position  worthy  of  Claude,  the  last  artist  who  painted  nature 
epically :  — 

"  There  is  at  the  west  ende  of  Itaile, 

Down  at  the  foot  of  Vesulus  the  cold, 

A  lusty  plain  abundant  of  vitaile, 

Where  many  a  tower  and  town  thou  may'st  behold 

That  founded  were  in  time  of  fathers  old, 

And  many  another  deh'table  sight ; 
And  Saluces  this  noble  country  hight." 

The  Pre-Raphaelite  style  of  landscape  entangles  the  eye  among 
the  obtrusive  weeds  and  grass-blades  of  the  foreground  which, 
in  looking  at  a  real  bit  of  scenery,  we  overlook ;  but  what  a 
sweep  of  vision^  is  here  !  and  what  happy  generalization  in  the 
sixth  verse  as  the  poet  turns  away  to  the  business  of  his  story  ! 
The  whole  is  full  of  open  air. 

But  it  is  in  his  characters,  especially,  that  his  manner  is 
large  and  free  ;  for  he  is  painting  history,  though  with  the 
fidelity  of  portrait.  He  brings  out  strongly  the  essential  traits, 
characteristic  of  the  genus  rather  than  of  the  individual.  The 
merchant  who  keeps  so  steady  a  countenance  that 

"  There  wist  no  wight  that  he  was  e'er  in  debt," 

the  Sergeant  at  Law,   "  who   seemed  busier  than   he  was," 
the  Doctor  of  Medicine,  whose  "  study  was  but  little  on  the 
Bible,"  —  in  all  these  cases  it  is  the  type  and  not  the  person- 
VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  228.  13 


194  Chaucer. 

age  that  fixes  his  attention.  William  Blake  says  truly,  though 
he  expresses  his  meaning  somewhat  clumsily,  "  the  characters 
of  Chaucer's  Pilgrims  are  the  characters  which  compose  all 
ages  and  nations.  Some  of  the  names  and  titles  are  altered 
by  time,  but  the  characters  remain  forever  unaltered,  and  con 
sequently  they  are  the  physiognomies  and  lineaments  of  uni 
versal  human  life,  beyond  which  Nature  never  steps.  Names 
alter,  things  never  alter.  As  Newton  numbered  the  stars,  and 
as  Linnaeus  numbered  the  plants,  so  Chaucer  numbered  the 
classes  of  men."  In  his  outside  accessaries,  it  is  true,  he 
sometimes  seems  as  minute  as  if  he  were  illuminating  a  mis 
sal.  Nothing  escapes  his  sure  eye  for  the  picturesque,  —  the 
cut  of  the  beard,  the  soil  of  armor  on  the  buff  jerkin,  the  rust  on 
the  sword,  the  expression  of  the  eye.  But  in  this  he  has  an 
artistic  purpose.  It  is  here  that  he  individualizes,  and,  while 
every  touch  harmonizes  with  and  seems  to  complete  the  moral 
features  of  the  character,  makes  us  feel  that  we  are  among  liv 
ing  men,  and  not  the  abstracted  images  of  men.  Crabbe  adds 
particular  to  particular,  scattering  rather  than  deepening  the  im 
pression  of  reality,  and  making  us  feel  as  if  every  man  were  a 
species  by  himself ;  but  Chaucer,  never  forgetting  the  essential 
sameness  of  human  nature,  makes  it  possible,  and  even  probable, 
that  his  motley  characters  should  meet  on  a  common  footing, 
while  he  gives  to  each  the  expression  that  belongs  to  him,  the 
result  of  special  circumstance  or  training.  Indeed,  the  ab 
sence  of  any  suggestion  of  caste  cannot  fail  to  strike  any  reader 
familiar  with  the  literature  on  which  he  is  supposed  to  have 
formed  himself.  No  characters  are  at  once  so  broadly  human 
and  so  definitely  outlined  as  his.  Belonging,  some  of  them, 
to  extinct  types,  they  continue  contemporary  and  familiar  for 
ever.  So  wide  is  the  difference  between  knowing  a  great 
many  men  and  that  knowledge  of  human  nature  which  comes 
of  sympathetic  insight  and  not  of  observation  alone. 

It  is  this  power  of  sympathy  which  makes  Chaucer's  satire 
so  kindly,  —  more  so,  one  is  tempted  to  say,  than  the  panegyric 
of  Pope.  Intellectual  satire  gets  its  force  from  personal  or 
moral  antipathy,  and  measures  offences  by  some  rigid  conven 
tional  standard.  Its  mouth  waters  over  a  galling  word,  and  it 
loves  to  say  Thou,  pointing  out  its  victim  to  public  scorn. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  195 

Indignatio  facit  versus,  it  boasts,  though  they  might  as  often 
be  fathered  on  envy  or  hatred.  But  imaginative  satire, 
warmed  through  and  through  with  the  genial  leaven  of  humor, 
smiles  half  sadly  and  murmurs  We.  Chaucer  either  makes 
one  knave  betray  another,  through  a  natural  jealousy  of  com 
petition,  or  else  expose  himself  with  a  naivete  of  good-humored 
cynicism  which  amuses  rather  than  disgusts.  In  the  former 
case  the  butt  has  a  kind  of  claim  on  our  sympathy  ;  in  the 
latter,  it  seems  nothing  strange  if  the  sunny  atmosphere 
which  floods  that  road  to  Canterbury  should  tempt  any  one  to 
throw  off  one  disguise  after  another  without  suspicion.  With 
perfect  tact,  too,  the  Host  is  made  the  choragus  in  this  diverse 
company,  and  the  coarse  jollity  of  his  temperament  explains, 
if  it  does  not  excuse,  much  that  would  otherwise  seem  out  of 
keeping.  Surely  nobody  need  have  any  scruples  with  him. 

Chaucer  seems  to  me  to  have  been  one  of  the  most  purely  origi 
nal  of  poets,  as  much  so  in  respect  of  the  world  that  is  about 
us  as  Dante  in  respect  of  that  which  is  within  us.  There  had 
been  nothing  like  him  before,  there  has  been  nothing  since. 
He  is  original,  not  in  the  sense  that  he  thinks  and  says  what 
nobody  ever  thought  and  said  before,  and  what  nobody  can  ever 
think  and  say  again,  but  because  he  is  always  natural,  because, 
if  not  always  absolutely  new,  he  is  always  delightfully  fresh, 
because  he  sets  before  us  the  world  as  it  honestly  appeared  to 
Geoffrey  Chaucer,  and  not  a  world  as  it  seemed  proper  to  cer 
tain  people  that  it  ought  to  appear.  He  found  that  the  poetry 
which  had  preceded  him  had  been  first  the  expression  of  indi 
vidual  feeling,  then  of  class  feeling  as  the  vehicle  of  legend 
and  history,  and  at  last  had  wellnigh  lost  itself  in  chasing  the 
mirage  of  allegory.  Literature  seemed  to  have  passed  through 
the  natural  stages  which  at  regular  intervals  bring  it  to  decline. 
Even  the  lyrics  of  the  jongleurs  were  all  run  in  one  mould, 
and  the  Pastourelles  of  Northern  France  had  become  as  arti 
ficial  as  the  Pastorals  of  Pope.  The  Romances  of  chivalry 
had  been  made  over  into  prose,  and  the  Melusine  of  his  con 
temporary  Jehan  d' Arras  is  the  forlorn  hope  of  the  modern 
novel.  Arrived  thus  far  in  their  decrepitude,  the  monks  en 
deavored  to  give  them  a  religious  and  moral  turn  by  allegorizing 
them.  Their  process  reminds  one  of  something  Ulloa  tells  us 


196  Chaucer. 

of  the  fashion  in  which  the  Spaniards  converted  the  Mexicans : 
"  Here  we  found  an  old  man  in  a  cavern  so  extremely  aged  as 
it  was  wonderful,  which  could  neither  see  nor  go  because 
he  was  so  lame  and  crooked.  The  Father,  Friar  Raimund, 
said  it  were  good  (seeing  he  was  so  aged)  to  make  him  a 
Christian ;  whereupon  we  baptized  him."  The  monks  found 
the  Romances  in  the  same  stage  of  senility,  and  gave  them 
a  saving  sprinkle  with  the  holy  water  of  allegory.  Perhaps 
they  were  only  trying  to  turn  the  enemy's  own  weapons 
against  himself,  for  it  was  the  free-thinking  Romance  of  the 
Rose  that  more  than  anything  else  had  made  allegory  fashion 
able.  Plutarch  tells  us  that  an  allegory  is  to  say  one  thing 
where  another  is  meant,  and  this  might  have  been  needful  for 
the  personal  security  of  Jean  de  Meung,  as  afterwards  for  that  of 
his  successor,  Rabelais.  But,  except  as  a  means  of  evading  the 
fagot,  the  method  has  few  recommendations.  It  reverses  the 
true  office  of  poetry  by  making  the  real  unreal.  It  is  imagina 
tion  endeavoring  to  recommend  itself  to  the  understanding  by 
means  of  cuts.  If  an  author  be  in  such  deadly  earnest,  or  if 
his  imagination  be  of  such  creative  vigor  as  to  project  real 
figures  when  it  meant  to  cast  only  a  shadow  upon  vapor ;  if  the 
true  spirit  come,  at  once  obsequious  and  terrible,  when  the  con 
jurer  has  drawn  his  circle  and  gone  through  with  his  incanta 
tions  merely  to  produce  a  proper  frame  of  mind  in  his  audi 
ence,  as  was  the  case  with  Dante,  there  is  no  longer  any  ques 
tion  of  allegory  as  the  word  and  thing  are  commonly  understood. 
But  with  air  secondary  poet's,  as  with  Spenser  for  example,  (the 
allegory  does  not  become  of  one  substance  with  the  poetry,  but 
is  a  kind  of  carven  frame  for  it,  whose  figures  lose  their  mean 
ing,  as  they  cease  to  be  contemporary.  It  was  not  a  style 
that  could  have  much  attraction  for  a  nature  so  sensitive  to 
the  actual,  so  observant  of  it,  so  interested  by  it  as  that  of 
Chaucer.  He  seems  to  have  tried  his  hand  at  all  the  forms 
in  vogue,  and  to  have  arrived  in  his  old  age  at  the  truth,  es 
sential  to  all  really  great  poetry,  that  his  own  instincts  were 
his  safest  guides,  that  there  is  nothing  deeper  in  life  than  life 
itself,  and  that  to  conjure  an  allegorical  significance  into  it 
was  to  lose  sight  of  its  real  meaning.  He  of  all  men  could 
not  say  one  thing  and  mean  another,  unless  by  way  of  humor 
ous  contrast. 


1870.]  Chaucer.  197 

In  thus  turning  frankly  and  gayly  to  the  actual  world,  and 
drinking  inspiration  from  sources  open  to  all ;  in  turning  away 
from  a  colorless  abstraction  to  the  solid  earth  and  to  emotions 
common  to  every  pulse  ;  in  discovering  that  to  make  the  best  of 
nature,  and  not  to  grope  vaguely  after  something  better  than 
nature,  was  the  true  office  of  Art;  in  insisting  on  a  definite  pur 
pose,  on  veracity,  cheerfulness,  and  simplicity,  Chaucer  shows 
himself  the  true  father  and  founder  of  what  is  characteristically 
English  literature.  He  has  a  hatred  of  cant  as  hearty  as  Dr. 
Johnson's,  though  he  has  a  slier  way  of  showing  it;  he  has  the 
placid  commonsense  of  Franklin,  the  sweet,  grave  humor  of 
Addison,  the  exquisite  taste  of  Gray  ;  but  the  whole  texture 
of  his  mind,  though  its  substance  seem  plain  and  grave,  shows 
itself  at  every  turn  iridescent  with  poetic  feeling  like  shot  silk. 
Above  all,  he  has  an  eye  for  character  that  seems  to  have 
caught  at  once  not  only  its  mental  and  physical  features,  but 
even  its  expression  in  variety  of  costume,  —  an  eye,  indeed, 
second  only,  if  it  should  be  called  second  in  some  respects,  to 
that  of  Shakespeare. 

I  know  of  nothing  that  may  be  compared  with  the  prologue 
to  the  Canterbury  Tales,  and  with  that  to  the  story  of  the 
Chanon's  Yeoman  before  Chaucer.  Characters  and  portraits 
from  real  life  had  never  been  drawn  with  such  discrimination, 
or  with  such  variety,  never  with  such  bold  precision  of  outline, 
and  with  such  a  lively  sense  of  the  picturesque.  His  Parson  is 
still  unmatched,  though  Dryden  and  Goldsmith  have  both  tried 
their  hands  in  emulation  of  him.  And  the  humor  also  in 
its  suavity,  its  perpetual  presence  and  its  shy  unobtrusiveness, 
is  something  wholly  new  in  literature.  For  anything  that 
deserves  to  be  called  like  it  in  English  we  must  w'ait  for 
Henry  Fielding. 

Chaucer  is  the  first  great  poet  who  has  treated  To-day  as  if  it 
were  as  good  as  Yesterday,  the  first  who  held  up  a  mirror  to 
contemporary  life  in  its  infinite  variety  of  high  and  low,  of 
humor  and  pathos.  But  he  reflected  life  in  its  large  sense  as 
the  life  of  men,  from  the  knight  to  the  ploughman,  —  the  life  of 
every  day  as' it  is  made  up  of  that  curious  compound  of  human 
nature  with  manners.  The  very  form  of  the  Canterbury  Tales 
was  imaginative.  The  garden  of  Boccaccio,  the  supper-party  of 


198  Chaucer. 

Grazzini,  and  the  voyage  of  Giraldi  make  a  good  enough  thread 
for  their  stories,  but  exclude  all  but  equals  and  friends,  exclude 
consequently  human  nature  in  its  wider  meaning.  But  by 
choosing  a  pilgrimage,  Chaucer  puts  us  on  a  plane  where  all 
men  are  equal,  with  souls  to  be  saved,  and  with  another  world 
in  view  that  abolishes  all  distinctions.  By  this  choice,  and  by 
making  the  Host  of  the  Tabard  always  the  central  figure,  he 
has  happily  united  the  two  most  familiar  emblems  of  life, — the 
short  journey  and  the  inn.  We  find  more  and  more  as  we 
study  him  that  he  rises  quietly  from  the  conventional  to  the 
universal,  and  may  fairly  take  his  place  with  Homer  in  virtue 
of  the  breadth  of  his  humanity. 

In  spite  of  some  external  stains,  which  those  who  have 
studied  the  influence  of  manners  will  easily  account  for  with 
out  imputing  them  to  any  moral  depravity,  we  feel  that  we  can 
join  the  pure-minded  Spenser  in  calling  him  "  most  sacred, 
happy  spirit."  If  character  may  be  divined  from  works,  he 
was  a  good  man,  genial,  sincere,  hearty,  temperate  of  mind, 
more  wise,  perhaps,  for  this  world  than  the  next,  but  thoroughly 
humane,  and  friendly  with  God  and  men.  I  know  not  how  to 
sum  up  what  we  feel  about  him  better  than  by  saying  (what 
would  have  pleased  most  one  who  was  indifferent  to  fame)  that 
we  love  him  more  even  than  we  admire.  We  are  sure  that 
here  was  a  true  brother-man  so  kindly  that,  in  his  House  of 
Fame,  after  naming  the  great  poets,  he  throws  in  a  pleasant 
word  for  the  oaten-pipes 

"  Of  the  little  herd-grooms 
That  keepen  beasts  among  the  brooms." 

No  better  inscription  can  be  written  on  the  first  page  of  his 
works  than  that  which  he  places  over  the  gate  in  his  Assembly 
of  Fowls,  and  which  contrasts  so  sweetly  with  the  stern  lines 
of  Dante  from  which  they  were  imitated :  — 

"  Through  me  men  go  into  the  blissful  place 
Of  the  heart's  heal  and  deadly  woundes'  cure; 
Through  me  men  go  unto  the  will  of  Grace, 
Where  green  and  lusty  May  doth  ever  endure ; 
This  is  the  way  to  all  good  aventure ; 
Be  glad,  thou  Reader,  and  thy  sorrow  offcast, 
All  open  am  I,  pass  in,  and  speed  thee  fast !  " 

JAMES  RUSSELL  LOWELL. 


1870.]  Comparative  Grammars.  199 


ART.  VIII.  —  CRITICAL  NOTICES. 

1.  —  1.   The  Students'  Handbook  of  Comparative  Grammar.     Applied 
to  the  Sanskrit,  Zend,  Greek,  Latin,  Gothic,  Anglo-Saxon,  and  Eng 
lish  Languages.    By  REV.  THOMAS  CLARK,  M.  A.,  late  Head  Master 
of  the  Proprietary  School,  Taunton.     London.     1862.     12mo.     pp. 
xii,  335. 

2.  A   Comparative    Grammar   of  Sanskrit,   Greek,  and  Latin.      By 
WILLIAM  HUGH  FERRAR,  M.  A.,  Fellow  and  Tutor  of  Trinity  Col 
lege,  Dublin.     London.     1869.     8vo.     pp.  vii  and  341. 

3.  Grammaire  Comparee  des  Langues  Classiques,  contenant  la  Tfieorie 
elementaire  de  la  Formation  des  Mots  en  Sanscrit,  en  Grec  et  en  Latin, 
avec  References  aux  Langues  germaniques.     Par  F.  BAUDRY,  ler 
Partie  :  Phonetique.     Paris.     1868.     pp.  vi,  212. 

4.  An  Introduction  to  Greek  and  Latin  Etymology.     BY  JOHN  PEILE, 
M.  A.,  Fellow  and  Assistant  Tutor  of  Christ's  College,  Formerly 
Teacher  of  Sanskrit  in  the  University  of  Cambridge.      London. 
1869.     8vo.     pp.  xxiv,  324. 

THAT  the  historical  or  comparative  study  of  languages  is  making 
rapid  progress  is  sufficiently  shown,  not  merely  by  the  appropriation  of 
the  results  of  the  study -in  the  grammatical  treatment  of  individual 
tongues,  but  also  by  the  appearance  of  various  works  intended  as  intro 
ductions  to  its  pursuit.  As  two  or  three  such  works  have  been  quite 
recently  laid  before  the  English  public,  it  seems  a  not  unsuitable  time 
to  pass  in  brief  review  the  literature  of  the  subject,  especially  its  later 
literature.  Of  the  older  (or  rather  the  less  recent,  for  it  is  not  proper 
to  use  the  word  old  in  reference  to  a  science  barely  fifty  years  out  of  its 
cradle)  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  speak  at  all.  Every  one  who  has  heard 
of  comparative  philology  at  all  has  heard  of  the  work  which  laid  its 
foundation  ;  namely,  "  Bopp's  Comparative  Grammar  of  the  Indo-Eu 
ropean  Languages."  Its  first  edition  was  begun  in  1833,  and  completed 
in  1849.  A  second  edition,  with  important  additions  and  alterations, 
having  the  value  almost  of  an  independent  work,  passed  pretty  rapidly 
through  the  press  some  years  later  (1857  —  61).  A  third  edition  was  in 
process  at  the  time  of  Bopp's  death,  two  years  ago  ;  but  it  was  hardly 
more  than  a  reprint  of  the  second ;  and,  considering  the  advanced  age 
and  infirmities  of  the  author,  its  loss  of  his  supervising  mind  and  eye  is 
the  less  to  be  regretted.  An  English  translation  has  also  gone  through 
three  editions,  —  the  last  appeared  after  the  completion  of  the  second  edi 
tion  of  the  original,  and  represented  it ;  and  a  French  version  is  also 


200  Comparative  Grammars. 

now  nearly  finished  (three  volumes  out  of  four  have  appeared).  This 
last  is  under  the  charge  and  resp&nsibility  of  M.  Breal,  the  most  learned 
and  judicious  of  French  scholars  in  this  department ;  and  it  is  enriched 
by  him  with  critical  prefaces,  which  add  not  a  little  to  its  value.  M. 
Bre'al's  representation  of  Bopp  is  to  be  warmly  commended  to  the  at 
tention  of  those  (of  whom  there  are  not  a  few)  who  are  not  so  versed 
in  German  as  not  to  prefer  an  easier  language  as  the  medium  of  their 
study. 

The  other  classical  work,  to  which  all  will,  as  a  matter  of  course,  re 
sort  who  intend  to  go  below  the  surface  of  the  subject,  is  Schleicher's 
"  Compendium  of  the  Comparative  Grammar  of  the  Indo-European  Lan 
guages."  Its  first  edition  appeared  in  1861  -  62  ;  its  second,  in  a  single 
stout  octavo  of  856  pages,  in  1866.  This,  too,  is  a  work  on  which  the 
seal  of  completion  has  been  set  by  its  author's  untimely  and  deeply 
lamented  death,  at  the  end  of  1868,  when  only  forty-eight  years  old  ; 
his  last  additions  and  corrections  to  it  are  given  in  an  appendix  to  his 
"  Indo-European  Chrestomathy,"  which  was  but  just  finished  (October, 
1868)  when  he  was  taken  away. 

The  style  and  method  of  these  two  works  are  exceedingly  different. 
Bopp  writes  with  a  flowing  and  attractive  simplicity,  and  explains  the 
workings  of  his  own  mind  with  reference  to  the  points  under  treatment 
in  a  manner  which  is  as  instructive  as  it  is  engaging.  .  Schleicher  is 
curt  and  dogmatic,  rarely  discusses,  and  rarely  mentions  views  dis 
cordant  with  his  own,  or  gives  the  impression  that  he  is  dealing  with 
matters  respecting  which  doubts  are  deep,  or  controversy  runs  high. 
This  is  partly  due  to  the  character  of  his  mind,  partly  to  the  require 
ments  of  his  plan ;  he  aimed  at  preparing  a  text-book,  to  be  used  by 
both  teacher  and  pupil  in  the  lecture-room. 

There  seems  to  be  every  reason  why  Schleicher's  grammar,  as  well 
as  Bopp's,  should  be  put  within  the  reach  of  English  readers  ;  and  we 
can  hardly  believe  that  sale  enough  might  not  be  found  for  an  English 
version  to  remunerate  both  translator  and  publishers,  if  the  enterprise 
were  so  conducted  as  to  reach  the  English  and  the  American  public 
together.  A  translation  is  the  more  desirable,  inasmuch  as  Schleicher 
has,  quite  unjustifiably,  adopted  in  the  original  an  orthography  of  his 
own  devising,  which  makes  many  of  the  most  familiar  German  words 
look  strange  enough,  and  renders  some  almost  unrecognizable  by  one 
who  is  not  a  practised  scholar  in  the  language.  To  a  beginner  this 
peculiarity  doubles  the  difficulty  of  the  text-book.  We  would  not  have 
such  a  translation,  if  undertaken,  content  itself  with  being  a  translation 
merely.  It  would  be  valuable  in  proportion  to  the  independence  (and 
competency)  with  which  it  criticised  and  amended  and  suggested,  men- 


1870.]  Comparative  Grammars.  201 

tioned  opposing  views  and  gave  references  to  where  they  might  be  found 
'  stated  and  discussed  with  more  fulness.  Upon  almost  every  single  point, 
in  every  department  of  the  subject,  there  is  now  a  whole  literature,  to 
which  a  guide-book  is  greatly  needed. 

Beside  these  comprehensive  works,  covering  the  entire  field  of  the 
Indo-European  languages  and  their  history,  there  is  room  and  call  for 
those  of  a  more  limited  character,  dealing  with  such  tongues  of  the 
family  as  lie  nearer  to  our  interests  and  are  more  studied  by  us,  —  like 
the  two  classical  languages  and  the  Germanic  or  Teutonic  ;  along,  of 
course,  with  the  Sanskrit,  as  the  nearest  representative  of  the  common 
mother  of  all.  The  want  thus  indicated  more  than  one  attempt  has 
been  made  to  relieve,  within  no  long  time  past ;  and  we  have  to  inquire 
here  with  what  success  the  attempts  have  met. 

As  long  ago  as  1862  a  "  Students'  Handbook  of  Comparative  Gram 
mar,"  etc.  was  produced  in  London  by  Rev.  Thomas  Clark.  It  is  a 
brief  work  (335  pages  duodecimo,  large  and  open  print),  and  does  not 
appear  ever  to  have  attracted  much  attention,  nor  has  it  any  special 
merits  which  should  entitle  it  to  attention.  At  the  outset,  indeed,  it 
repels  us  by  a  portentous  blunder :  in  stating  the  primary  branches  of 
the  Indo-European  family,  it  sets  the  High-German  down  as  a  separate 
branch,  apart  from  the  Low-German,  Scandinavian,  and  Gothic  ;  and 
then,  as  if  to  maintain,  out  of  superstitious  reverence,  the  current  seven 
fold  division,  it  runs  together  into  one  .the  Latin  and  the  Greek  !  No 
one  can  feel  inclined  to  trust  an  author  who  is  capable  of  such  work  as 
that ;  however  faithful  and  laborious  the  latter  may  be,  there  is  no  tell 
ing  where  the  ground  may  drop  away  under  one's  feet.  It  is  fair  to  say, 
however,  that  what  we  have  referred  to  is  by  far  the  worst  point  in  the 
volume,  which  is  in  general  distinguished  neither  by  particular  ability 
nor  by  unusual  blundering ;  some  may  find  it  a  convenient  first  intro 
duction  to  the  study,  although  no  one  would  think  of  quoting  it  as  an 
authority. 

More  recent  and  much  more  pretentious  is  the  "  Comparative  Gram 
mar  of  Sanskrit,  Greek,  and  Latin,"  by  William  H.  Ferrar  (not  to  be 
confounded  with  Frederic  W.  Farrar).  Of  this  the  first  volume  was 
issued  last  year,  and  the  second  and  concluding  one  is  promised  for  the 
beginning  of  1872.  The  part  published  includes  the  subjects  of  phonet 
ics,  roots  and  stems,  and  declension,  leaving  conjugation  and  the  inde- 
clinables  to  be  treated  hereafter.  We  cannot  say  much  in  favor  of  this 
work,  in  any  respect.  Its  type  and  paper,  to  be  sure,  are  unexception 
able  ;  but  the  author's  part,  even  of  its  getting  up,  is  highly  exception 
able  ;  there  is  no  index ;  the  table  of  contents  fills  eleven  lines ;  and, 
instead  of  running  headings,  we  have  the  words  "  Comparative  Gram- 


202  Comparative  Grammars.  [July? 

** 

mar  "  thrust  before  our  eyes  at  the  top  of  every  page,  as  if  we  could 
not  otherwise  retain  the  knowledge  of  what  book  we  have  in  our  hands. 
Such  captions  are  always  and  everywhere  an  impertinence,  but  espe 
cially  when  we  ought  to  have  in  them  that  help  to  the  convenient  use 
of  the  volume  which  has  been  unjustly  denied  us  elsewhere.  Then  the 
author's  plan  is  not  to  our  mind,  in  that  he  professedly  leaves  alto 
gether  out  of  account  the  branch  of  language  to  which  our  English 
belongs, — the  Germanic.  A  partial  comparative  grammar  for  English 
students,  with  the  English  element  omitted,  will  never  have  our  ap 
proval,  and  will,  generally,  we  are  confident,  be  pronounced  to  have 
fallen  short  of  its  true  aim.  Mr.  Ferrar,  to  be  sure,  does  not  stick  to 
his  plan  throughout.  He  has  a  whole  chapter  on  "  Grimm's  Law  "  (of 
the  progression  of  mutes  in  the  Germanic  languages),  which  he  intro 
duces  without  a  word  of  explanation  or  apology,  as  if  the  special  pho 
netic  phenomena  of  Germanic  speech  formed  a  natural  part  of  a  San 
skrit-Greek-Latin  grammar,  and  were  always  to  be  looked  for  in  it. 
And  he  adds  at  the  end,  in  an  appendix,  a  very  full  abstract  of  the 
essay  by  which  Dr.  Biihler  attempts  to  show  that  the  Sanskrit  "  cere 
brals  "  were  not  due  to  the  influence  of  the  aborigines  of  India.  Now 
Dr.  Biihler  is  a  scholar  of  high  rank,  and  his  essay  is  an  able  one, 
though  not  perhaps  quite  so  convincing  as  Mr.  Ferrar  believes  it ; 
but  some  scores  of  other  articles,  upon  very  special  points  in  the  his 
tory  of  this  and  that  Indo-European  language,  have  been  published 
during  the  past  twenty  years,  which  have  an  equal  or  superior  claim 
to  insertion  in  Mr.  Ferrar's  volume ;  and  we  would  gladly  have  seen 
the  space  it  occupies  filled  with  something  more  about  the  Ger 
manic  tongues,  or  with  twenty  other  things  we  could  mention.  The 
explanation  of  the  insertion  seems  to  be  that  Dr.  Biihler  was  formerly 
a  colleague  (or  perhaps  instructor  ?)  of  the  author  at  Dublin  ;  and  the 
latter  shows  clearly  in  other  points,  as  well  as  here,  the  influence  of 
local  considerations. 

The  execution,  also,  of  Mr.  Ferrar's  treatise  leaves  much  to  be 
desired.  He  has  been  an  industrious  student  of  the  best  authorities 
(together  with  some  which  are  not  so  good),  and  has  gotten  together, 
of  course,  in  his  340  octavo  pages,  a  good  deal  of  valuable  matter ;  but 
it  seems  to  be  by  a  kind  of  mechanical  and  outside  process.  He  has 
not  assimilated  his  material,  and  then  evolved  it  organically ;  even 
<  when  he  does  not  tell  us  that  in  treating  this  and  that  subject  he  fol 
lows  such  and- such  a  teacher,  we  feel  the  composite  nature  of  what  is 
put  before  us,  —  we  see  the  seams.  Of  real  profound  learning  and  crit 
ical  insight  we  discover  few  traces.  The  very  first  sentence  is  almost 
enough  to  make  us  lay  down  the  book  in  hopelessness.  It  runs  thus  : 


1870.]  Comparative  Grammars.  203 

"  The  physiology  of  the  human  voice  is  the  true  basis  upon  which  all 
inquiries  into  the- origin  of  language  and  the  mutual  connection  of  lan 
guages  should  be  built."  A  most  narrow  basis,  surely  !  and  a  very  thin 
and  shaky  structure  were  that  which  should  be  raised  upon  it !  Prob 
ably,  if  the  author  were  pressed  a  little,  he  could  be  made  to  acknowl 
edge  that  he  meant  nothing  more  than  that  a  thorough  comprehension 
of  the  physical  acts  of  utterance  is  necessary  in  order  to  the  full  under 
standing  of  the  processes  of  phonetic  change  in  language ;  and  that,  as 
phonetics  assume  the  initial  place  in  a  comparative  grammar,  it  is 
proper  to  begin,  first  of  all,  with,  a  physical  account  of  the  alphabet. 
There  have  been  great  students  of  language  whose  basis  has  been  ex 
ceedingly  defective  in  this  particular  regard ;  and,  on  the  other  hand, 
men  strong  in  vocal  anatomy  who  were  poor  enough  linguists.  Judged 
by  his  own  rule,  the  author  cannot  have  built  up  his  inquiries  very 
solidly,  for  his  description  of  sounds  is  open  to  criticism  in  a  host  of 
particulars.  It  is,  as  we  have  already  said  of  the  work  in  general, 
made  up  by  a  process  of  combination :  here  Briicke  is  followed,  there 
Lepsius,  and  again  Miiller  is  the  authority  relied  on  ;  but  Ferrar, 
except  as  their  mouthpiece,  we  see  little  of;  and  what  we  see,  it  may 
be  added,  does  not  make  us  long  for  more.  For  example,  the  theory 
of  diphthongs  is  certainly  his  own.  It  is  this  :  "  When  two  vowels  fol 
low  each  other  so  rapidly  as  to  melt  into  one  sound,  we  obtain  a.  diph 
thong.  Now,  we  know  that  a  is  formed  at  a  point  in  the  mouth  before 
t  and  M,  and  therefore  it  alone  of  the  three  primary  vowels  can  form  a 
true  diphthongal  base."  Who  can  point  out  the  sequitur  here  ?  It 
seems  to  be  meant  that,  as  the  point  in  the  mouth  where  i  or  u  is  pro 
duced  is  farther  forward,  or  "later,"  in  the  mouth  than  that  where  a  is 
produced,  therefore  i  or  u  cannot  be  uttered  before  a.  No ;  we  retract 
that  suggestion,  and  give  up  the  matter  as  impenetrable.  What,  again, 
is  the  sense,  and  what  the  pertinence  in  a  phonetical  discussion,  of  this 
remark  ?  "  The  consonantal  signs  were  originally  marks  for  syllables, 
as  the  Devanagari  and  Semitic -alphabets  prove."  Then,  when  we 
come  to  another  grand  department  of  the  subject,  we  are  told  that  the 
vocative  case  "  is  not  properly  a  word,  being  only  an  interjection." 
And  is  not,  then,  an  interjection  a  word  ?  When  one  says  "  O  my 
lord  ! "  what  does  he  use  if  not  words  ?  Mr.  Ferrar  may  maintain,  if 
he  chooses,  that  the  vocative  is  not  a  case,  nor  the  interjection  a  part  of 
speech,  in  the  same  sense  with  the  other  cases  and  parts  of  speech ;  but 
we  challenge  him  to  give  an  acceptable  definition  of  a  word  which  shall 
not  include  both. 

It  would  be  easy  to  quote  other  characteristic  statements  of  the  same 
calibre  with  these  without  doing  any  real  injustice  to  the  volume  or 


• 
. 


204  Comparative  Grammars. 

its  author,  even  while  acknowledging  that  no  small  part  of  its  con 
tents  is  of  a  different  character.  It  is  not  prepared  with  that  degree 
of  mastery  of  its  subject  which  we  have  the  right  to  require  of  one 
who  attempts  to  make  a  text-book  for  our  instruction,  and  we  do  not 
desire  ever  to  see  the  undertaking  completed. 

Another  industrious  compilation,  of  nearly  the  same  general  style 
and  grade,  has  been  recently  made  by  a  Frenchman,  M.  Baudry,  of 
whom  we  know  nothing  save  that  he  is  an  assistant  of  M.  Breal  in  the 
work  of  translation  of  Bopp,  already  referred  to.  It  is  to  occupy  three 
volumes,  of  which  the  first  (Paris,  1868,  8vo,  pp.  212)  is  already 
out,  and  treats  of  the  subject  of  phonetics.  The  second  is  to  deal  with 
roots  and  with  declension ;  the  third,  with  conjugation.  Writing,  as  he 
does,  for  a  French  public,  the  author  takes  all  the  notice  of  the  Ger 
manic  that  can  fairly  be  required  of  him;  and  he  is  able  to  bring  in, 
without  violating  (like  Mr.  Ferrar)  the  plan  of  his  work,  that  exposi 
tion  of  Grimm's  Law  which  no  treatise  on  any  part  of  Indo-European 
phonology  seems  capable  of  foregoing.  We  wish  that  he  had  spared 
us  the  tedious  refutation  which  follows  it,  of  attempted  explanations  of 
that  remarkable  phenomenon  which  no  one  has  ever  found  acceptable, 
and  which  are  in  themselves  quite  unworthy  of  notice.  Upon  the 
whole,  we  have  a  higher  opinion  of  M.  Baudry's  volume  than  of  Mr. 
Ferrar's  ;  yet  the  two  are  to  be  classed  together  as  of  a  secondary 
order  of  merit.  M.  Baudry,  also,  is  far  from  having  gained  such  a 
comprehension  of  the  processes  of  utterance  as  should  give  an  indepen 
dent  value  to  his  expositions  of  phonetic  phenomena,  or  even  as  should 
enable  him  to  distinguish  always  a  good  opinion  from  a  bad  one.  We 
have  not  space  to  enter  into  details,  but  would  simply  refer  to  his  dis 
cussion  of  the  subject  of  quantity  (pages  9-13),  which  is  wanting,  to  a 
very  discreditable  degree,  in  an  understanding  of  the  facts  it  is  dealing 
with.  The  author  appears  to  imagine  that  "  position,"  or  the  being  fol 
lowed  by  two  consonants,  alters  the  actual  pronunciation  of  a  vowel,  mak 
ing  the  vowel  itself  long,  instead  of  merely  changing  the  value  of  the  syl 
lable,  in  virtue  of  the  accumulation  within  its  limits  of  consonant  quan 
tity, —  which,  ofx course,  is  just  as  real,  requiring  expenditure  of  time, 
as  vowel  quantity.  And  he  points  it  out  as  a  remarkably  antagonistic 
phenomenon,  wellnigh  inexplicable  in  its  diversity,  that  the  Germanic 
languages  usually  shorten  a  vowel,  instead  of  protracting  it,  before  a 
combination  of  consonants.  He  quotes,  indeed,  the  true  explanation  of 
the  whole  matter  from  Benloew  and  Corssen,  with  unquestioning  ap 
proval,  and  with  much  commendation  of  those  gentlemen  for  their 
acuteness  in  suggesting  what  we  hope  that  few  save  himself  have  not 
been  sharp  enough  to  see  -without  help  from  others,  —  what,  for  ex- 


1870.]  Comparative  Grammars.  205 

ample,  the  oldest  Hindoo  grammarians  were  perfectly  clear  about ; 
yet,  after  all,  he  adheres  to  his  own  view,  and  continues  to  believe  in 
the  reality  of  the  difficulty  which  he  has  conjured  up.  There  is  noth 
ing  else  so  unfortunate  as  this,  we  believe,  in  the  whole  volume  ;  but  it 
is  merely  an  extreme  example  of  a  certain  deficiency  of  insight,  which 
is  a  general  characteristic  of  M.  Baudry's  work,  and  which  deprives 
the  latter  of  all  claim  to  the  honor  of  being  a  contribution  to  philo 
logical  science. 

The  only  other  book  of  which  we  shall  need  to  speak,  at  this  time, 
is  that  of  Mr.  Peile.  It  is  in  the  form  of  a  series  of  fourteen  lectures, 
successively  treating  of  the  principle  of  phonetic  change  (i),  the  rela 
tionship  of  the  Indo-European  peoples  (ii),  the  Indo-European  alpha 
bet  (iii,  iv),  dynamic  change  (v),  phonetic  change  (vi-xiii),  and 
indistinct  articulation  (xiv).  Its  design  is  to  introduce  classical  schol 
ars  to  the  methods  and  results  of  the  scientific  study  of  language,  and 
to  correct  the  unscientific  and  hap-hazard  style  of  etymologizing  which 
is  still  too  current  among  them  (as  instanced  by  him  in  the  preface 
from  the  case  of  one  of  his  own  colleagues).  And  it  is  excellently 
adapted  to  its  purpose ;  better,  as  appears  to  us,  than  any  other  work 
in  the  English  language.  It  is  a  production  of  much  higher  character 
than  those  which  we  have  thus  far  been  noticing.  The  author  ac 
knowledges  his  indebtedness  to  the  great  German  masters  of  com 
parative  philology,  —  as  Curtius,  Schleicher,  Benfey,  Corssen,  etc.,  — 
which,  indeed,  no  one  who  at  the  present  time  executes  such  a  work  as 
it  should  be  executed  can  honestly  avoid  doing ;  they  have  laid  the 
foundations  of  the  study  so  deep  and  strong  that  those  who  come  after 
must  build  upon  them.  But  he  has  studied  them  in  a  free  and  in 
dependent  spirit,  and  has  thoroughly  worked  their  results  into  himself, 
so  that  his  exposition  is  his  own,  brought  forth  from  within,  instead  of 
being  put  together  from  without.  The  British  universities  have  hardly 
produced  anything  before  so  fully  in  the. spirit  of  a  continuation  and 
promotion  of  modern  philology. 

Mr.  Peile's  work,  unlike  the  three  already  reported,  tempts  to  de 
tailed  criticism,  because  it  contains  so  much  that  is  good,  and  so  little 
to  which  one  need  take  exception.  But  we  must  limit  ourselves  to 
noticing  a  point  or  two  in  it.  In  the  first  place,  it  is  evident  that  the 
author  has  mastered  the  subject  of  the  physical  constitution  and  rela 
tions  of  the  alphabet  much  less  completely  than  that  of  the  general 
theory  and  the  historical  details  of  phonetic  change.  Now  a  sound  and 
instructive  account  of  the  phonetic  phenomena  of  speech  may  undoubt 
edly  be  made  out  by  one  who  has  only  a  superficial  knowledge  of  the 
processes  of  articulation  ;  only  he  will  be  liable  to  err  here  and  there 


206  Comparative  Grammars. 

in  the  theoretic  explanation  of  phenomena;  and  may  even  have  his 
understanding  of  the  latter  warped  by  a  false  phonetic  theory.  Both 
these  errors  Mr.  Peile  has  here  and  there  fallen  into.  Thus,  he  says 
(p.  32),  when  treating  of  vowel-intensification,  "by  simply  allowing 
a  stronger  current  of  air  to  pass  from  the  lungs  before  sounding  the 
radical  vowel  of  a  word,  they  [our  forefathers]  produced  in  effect  a  new 
vowel  a  before  each  such  vowel,"  —  as  if  a  were  a  mere  intensified  i  or 
w,  instead  of  a  sound  produced  by  a  perfectly  distinct  position  of  the 
organs,  different  from  that  of  either  of  the  others.  This  is,  indeed,  a 
very  trivial  matter  (though  not  without  a  bearing  upon  the  author's 
fundamental  views)  ;  much  more  important  is  his  constant  designation 
of  b  and  v,  for  example,  as  "  soft"  sounds,  as  compared  with  p  andy, 
which  are  "  hard  " ;  and  his  assumption  that  the  relations  of  the  two 
classes  are  thus  truly  expressed,  and  that  accordingly  the  change  of  p 
to  b  is  a  weakening  process,  and  that  of  b  to  p  a  strengthening  one. 
Probably  Max  Miiller  is  chiefly  to  blame  for  this.  Mr.  Peile,  in  fact, 
at  the  point  where  it  was  incumbent  on  him  to  explain  and  defend  the 
assumed  relation  of  his  "  hards  "  and  "  softs,"  declines  to  enter  into  the 
question,  and  refers  "  any  one  who  wishes  to  understand  this  part  of 
the  subject "  to  Miiller.  The  reference  sounds  to  us  somewhat  like  a 
joke ;  we  should  have  said  that  any  one  who  wishes  to  be  taught  two 
or  three  inconsistent  views,  and  to  be  led  finally  to  abide  by  the  wrong 
one,  should  resort  to  Miiller.  The  true  relation  has  been  defined  a 
hundred  times,  and  the  best  phonologists  are  now  agreed  about  it. 
The  mouth-organs  being  fixed  in  a  certain  position,  if  simple  breath 
be  emitted,  the  articulation  is  "  hard  "  ;  if  breath  that  is  converted  into 
sound  on  its  way  through  the  throat,  by  the  vibration  of  the  vocal 
cords,  it  is  "  soft."  There  is  no  real  question  of  hardness  or  softness 
here  ;  in  fact,  if  those  terms  are  to  be  used  at  all,  they  ought'  to  be  ap 
plied  in  just  the  opposite  way  to  that  in  which  Mr.  Peile  uses  them. 
Unless  voice  is  softer  than  whisper,  unless  audible  utterance  is  less 
hard  than  mere  breathing,  unless  to  set  in  action  one  part  only  of 
the  apparatus  of  speech  is  less  easy  than  to  do  the  same  by  two,  then 
b  and  v  are  really  harder  than  p  and  f.  We  would  not,  of  course, 
advocate  seriously  the  reversal  of  the  terms,  because  it  would  still 
amount  to  using  an  analogical  or  fanciful  term  in  place  of  a  truly 
descriptive  or  scientific  one,  —  a  proceeding  wholly  to  be  rejected  in 
scientific  etymology.  It  is  true  that,  in  the  historical  development  of 
language,  p  passes  into  b  more  often  than  the  contrary ;  but  that  does 
not  prove  b  an  easier  sound  per  se  than  p  ;  nor,  when  we  actually  find 
b  changed  to  p,  —  as  by  the  German,  who  says  kalp  for  kalb,  —  are  we 
to  give  the  speaker  credit  for  a  strengthened  utterance ;  the  matter 


1870.]  Comparative  Grammars.  207 

needs  to  be  argued  and  explained  on  quite  different  grounds.  Indeed, 
we  think  Mr.  Peile's  whole  basis  of  phonetic  explanation  a  little  too 
narrow  and  rectangular ;  there  is  too  much  of  "  hard  and  soft "  and 
"  heavy  and  light  "  in  it.  We  are  tired  of  hearing  even  of  "  heavy  "  a, 
and  "  light "  i  and  u.  There  is  a  valuable  element  of  truth  in  these 
designations,  but  also  a  decided  mythological  element,  which  turns  a 
fancy  into  a  fact,  and  uses  an  analogical  epithet  as  if  it  were  a  scientific 
definition. 

A  yet  more  serious  fault  in  Mr.  Peile's  general  system  is,  we  are 
convinced  (although  he  certainly  has  high  authorities  on  his  side),  his 
admission  of  the  increase  or  intensification  of  vowel  sounds  (the  con 
version  of  a  to  «,  of  i  to  e  and  di,  of  u  to  5  and  au)  as  a  primary  or 
organic  means  of  expression  in  Indo-European  language ;  as  having 
been  applied  directly,  in  a  kind  of  symbolic  way,  to  the  usps  of t  gram 
matical  or  radical  distinction.  A  marked  tendency  in  the  best  modern 
research,  if  we  are  not  mistaken,  is  toward  the  entire  elimination  of  the 
symbolical  element  from  the  history  of  the  languages  of  our  family,  and 
the  recognition  of  all  internal  change,  whether  of  vowel  or  of  consonant, 
as  at  first  only  the  accidental  accompaniment  of  external  accretion,  or 
its  remoter  euphonic  consequence  ;  even  though  sometimes  seized  upon 
later  by  the  language-making  faculty  and  turned  to  account  in  a  sec 
ondary  way,  or  inorganically.  This  is  no  place  to  enter  into  any  de 
tailed  discussion  of  the  subject ;  we  would  only  point  out  that  Mr.  Peile 
does  not  always  show  his  usual  fairness  and  soundness  when  he  touches 
upon  it.  In  one  place  (p.  112),  after  a  brief  exposition  of  a  part  of 
the  view  opposed  to  his  own,  he  turns  it  off  summarily  as  plausible 
enough  indeed,  but  incapable  of  being  proved.  A  deliberate  balancing 
of  the  evidence  on  the  one  side  and  on  the  other  would,  we  are  sure, 
have  shown  him  a  great  preponderance  in  its  favor.  Again  (p.  110) 
he  tells  us  that  "  from  vid,  '  to  know/  comes  by  regular  ascent  the  well- 
known  word  Veda ;  and  the  second  step  (together  with  the  suffix  -ika 
which  is  purely  formal)  gives  us  Vaidika"  This  strikes  us  as  very  bad 
etymologizing,  —  this  depreciation  of  the  suffix  of  derivation  as  some 
thing  "  purely  formal " ;  a  thing  subordinate  to  the  internal  vowel 
change,  and  insignificant  in  comparison  with  it.  Is  that  the  ordi 
nary  value  of  suffixes  in  Indo-European  language  ?  We  must  pre 
sume,  then,  that  the  essential  distinction  between  vedmi, "  I  know,"  and 
vidmds,  "  we  know,"  is  the  difference  of  radical  vowel,  the  endings  mi 
and  mas  being  "  purely  formal."  And  where  is  the  intelligible  symbol 
ism,  either  in  Mr.  Peile's  examples  or  in  our  own,  of  which  the  varia 
tion  of  towel  can  be  imagined  to  serv.e  the  uses  ?  These  two  facts  — 
that  vowel  change  comes  along  with  the  ordinary  means  of  external 


208  Lea's  Studies  in  Church  History. 

derivation,  and  that  it  is  not  to  be  brought  into  any  definable  relation 
with  ideas  or  classes  of  ideas,  as  their  expression  —  compel  us  to  re 
gard  this  instrumentality  as  no  essential  part  of  the  means  of  deriva 
tion  ;  and  change,  therefore,  the  point  of  view  from  which  we  have  to 
regard  many  of  the  phenomena  set  forth  so  clearly  and  attractively  by 
our  author. 

Mr.  Peile  has  had  faith  enough  in  the  usefulness  of  his  volume  to  be 
willing  to  take  pains  that  it  be  made  easily  usable.  It  has  a  careful 
and  detailed  analysis  at  the  beginning,  and  a  good  index  at  the  end, 
with  both  running  headings  and  marginal  indications  of  the  subject 
under  treatment  all  the  way  through.  For  all  these,  every  reader,  of 
whom  we  wish  him  many,  will  be  truly  grateful.  We  heartily  com 
mend  the  work  to  all  who  are  capable  of  an  interest  in  its  subject. 


2.  —  Studies  in  Church  History.  The  Rise  of  the  Temporal  Power.  — 
Benefit  of  Clergy.  —  Excommunication.  By  HENRY  C.  LEA. 
Philadelphia :  Henry  C.  Lea.  1869.  12mo.  pp.515. 

MR.  LEA'S  books  —  especially  the  one  now  before  us  —  demonstrate 
what  we  have  too  willingly  suffered  to  be  called  in  question,  —  the 
possibility  of  thorough,  exhaustive  research  and  truly  erudite  author 
ship  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic.  It  is  a  common  belief  that  here  we 
must  at  best  content  ourselves  with  second-hand  authorities,  and  that 
the  most  that  we  can  do  is  to  decant  and  dilute  the  choicer  vin 
tages  of  European  scholarship  and  learning.  It  is  true  that  no  pub 
lic  library  in  America  would  furnish  materials  for  an  extended  or 
ramified  research  in  any  department,  and  this  will  continue  to  be 
the  case  until  there  is  a  systematic  tabulation  of  books  wanted  and 
needed  in  our  libraries,  with  an  organized  and  prolonged  siege  of 
the  sources  of  supply  which  might  be  made  richly  available ;  but  it 
is  an  error  to  suppose  that  books,  which  are  rare  in  Europe  are  un 
attainable  here.  In  works  not  originally  costly,  but  made  precious  by 
their  antiquity,  and  needed  only  for  specialties  in  research,  the  ag 
gregate  wealth  of  private  libraries  in  Europe  is  probably  very  much 
greater  than  that  of  public  libraries  ;  and  in  the  breaking  up  and  sale 
of  the  former  there  is  perpetual  opportunity  for  procuring  books  that 
have  long  since  passed  away  from  trade  catalogues.  Indeed,  it  is  not 
uncommon  to  find  in  some  obscure  London  shop  or  stall,  or  on  the 
parapets  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Seine,  and  at  fabulously  low  prices, 
defaced,  yet  not  mutilated,  copies  of  works  commonly  regarded  as 
beyond  reach. 


1870.]  Lea's  Studies  in  Church  History.  209 

Mr.  Lea  has  written  on  subjects  that  demanded  for  their  study  an 
ample  supply  of  books,  antique,  rare,  and  precious  ;  and  he  has  been  un 
willing  to  enter  seriously  into  any  subject  till  he  had  provided  himself 
with  a  competent  apparatus  for  its  investigation.  He  indeed  has 
made  liberal  pecuniary  outlays,  and  has  had  correspondents  and  agents 
wherever  there  was  any  hope  of  capturing  a  stray  volume  that  might 
serve  his  purpose  ;  but  so  entire  has  been  his  success  that  he  can  hardly 
be  less  fully  furnished  with  original  authorities  in  his  own  library 
than  he  would  be  were  he  to  confine  himself  to  any  one  of  the  great 
European  libraries.  His  books,  therefore,  have  it'  for  the  prime  ele 
ment  of  their  value  that  they  contain  authentic  history,  drawn  directly 
from  its  sources.  The  author  has,  indeed,  his  historical  theories ;  he 
marks  with  care  the  development  of  ideas  and  tendencies,  and  traces 
with  delicate  skill  the  filaments  that  bind  seemingly  isolated  events  and 
give  unity  to  the  collective  movement  of  a  race  or  an  age ;  yet  he 
never  generalizes  till  he  has  all  the  facts  within  his  grasp,  —  his  con 
clusions  never  furnish  him  his  premises,  he  never  picks  over  his  mate 
rials  to  select  only  such  as  will  sustain  his  theories. 

Still  less  does  he  subordinate  history  to  rhetoric.  He  is  guiltless  of 
all  attempts  at  fine  writing.  It  is  perfectly  evident  that  he  writes, 
not  to  attract  but  to  instruct  readers.  He  makes  no  drafts  upon  his 
imagination,  dresses  up  no  scene,  pieces  out  no  imperfect  narrative 
with  the  anachronisms  which  often  make  historical  pictures  at  once 
vivid  and  grotesque,  lifelike,  yet  the  reverse  of  truthful.  He  relates 
no  more  than  he  finds  recorded,  and  gives  his  story  the  coloring  of  its 
times,  and  not  of  his.  But  while  Mr.  Lea's  style  lacks  ornament  it 
is  by  no  means  wanting  in  grace.  His  diction  never  offends  the  se 
verest  taste,  and  indicates  a  scholarly  precision  in  the  choice  of  words 
and  phrases.  His  sentences  are  simple  in  their  construction,  and 
always  perspicuous.  While  there  is  no  useless  verbiage,  there  is 
nothing  of  that  dense  compression  which  makes  some  historical  works 
as  dry  as  a  chronological  table.  Whatever  of  interest  is  inherent  in 
the  subject  treated  or  in  the  events  recorded  is  fully  retained  in 
the  narrative ;  while  there  is  no  attempt  to  magnify  what  is  in  itself 
trivial  and  insignificant,  or  to  elevate  mere  anecdote  into  history. 
Equally  little  is  there  of  irrelevant  discussion.  History  is  made  to 
give  its  own  lessons,  and  is  not  used  to  sustain  the  author's  precon 
ceived  opinions.  In  fine,  these  essays  are  models  in  their  kind,  — 
the  simple,  orderly  presentation  of  facts,  events,  and  movements  in 
their  bearing  on  their  respective  subjects,  —  each  a  complete  and  ex 
haustive  monograph,  containing,  with  ample  means  of  verification  in 
references  and  extracts,  all  that  the  reader  needs  to  place  himself 

VOL.  cxi.  •. —  NO.  228.  14 


210  Lea's  Studies  in  Church  History.  [July? 

at  the  point  of  view  which  the  author  has  attained  by  the  most  pains 
taking  and  elaborate  research. 

The  volume  before  us,  though  consisting  of  three  separate  essays, 
has  a  virtual  unity.  The  three  titles  represent  the  several  stages, 
logically  consecutive,  though  coincident  in  time,  by  which  the  Romish 
Church  established  its  sovereignty  over  Christendom.  The  assump 
tion  of  authority  in  things  temporal  preceded  by  many  centuries  the 
concession  of  temporal  power.  Hardly  had  Christianity  become  the 
recognized  religion  of  the  Roman  Empire,  when  its  bishops  and  coun 
cils  claimed,  and  were  often  suffered  to  exercise,  dictatorship  in  mat 
ters  properly  under  the  jurisdiction  of  the  secular  authorities ;  and 
numberless  usurpations,  pretensions,  and  forgeries  prepared  the  way 
for  the  division  of  power  between  the  Church  and  the  Empire  under 
Charlemagne,  and  for  the  supremacy  which  ensued  under  his  successors, 
and  which  suffered  no  serious  infraction  till  the  age  of  Luther.  Con 
current  with  the  claim  of  ecclesiastical  jurisdiction  was  that  of  immu 
nity  on  the  part  of  the  clergy  from  the  secular  tribunals.  This  last 
claim  —  believed  to  have  had  its  origin  in  the  Council  of  Nicaea  —  was 
sometimes  partially  recognized,  sometimes  entirely  repudiated,  by  the 
Eastern  emperors.  On  the  disruption  of  the  empire  it  became  the 
common  law  of  Christendom  ;  and  for  centuries  afterward  ecclesiastics 
enjoyed  a  criminal  license,  which  rendered  them  the  pest  and  bane  of 
every  land,  desecrated  the  ritual  of  devotion,  made  the  Church  de 
pendent  for  its  very  existence  on  the  superstition  and  ignorance  of 
the  people,  and  contributed  more  than  all  things  else  to  the  Protestant 
Reformation.  Excommunication  was  a  necessary  incident  of  the  ex 
istence  of  the  Church  ;  for  the  power  of  exclusion  inheres  wherever 
membership  is  contingent  on  express  or  implied  conditions.  While  the 
Church  remained  a  purely  spiritual  corporation,  no  wrong  was  done 
by  denying  its  privileges  to  those  who  showed  themselves  unworthy 
of  its  fellowship,  nor  even  by  proclaiming  penalties  purely  spiritual 
against  such  as  made  themselves  amenable  to  its  censures.  Moreover, 
so  fast  and  so  far  as  the  Church  obtained  possession  of  temporal  power, 
it  was  impossible,  however  unjust,  that  it  should  not  employ  against  its 
disobedient  or  recusant  members  all  the  weapons  in  its  armory.  Ex 
communication  thus  became  the  chief  instrument  of  ecclesiastical  tyr 
anny,  the  terror  of  monarchs  and  of  nations,  the  power  which  made  the 
bishop  of  Rome  the  king  of  kings. 

The  volume  under  review  places  before  us  Christianity,  the  ecclesi 
astical  hierarchy,  and  the  laity,  in  their  respective  relations.  Chris 
tianity  in  the  teachings  and  life  of  its  Author  is  purity  and  love.  Its 
records  contain  not  a  trace  of  any  design  on  his  part  that  it  should 


1870.]  Tongas  English- Greek  Lexicon.  211 

have  any  functionaries  other  than  ministers:  that  is,  servants  who 
should  owe  their  position,  as  he  owed  the  name  above  every  name, 
to  lowly  service  and  willing  sacrifice.  The  assumption  of  authority 
and  power  by  these  ministers  involved  in  itself  all  possibilities  of  cor 
ruption,  wrong,  and  evil,  converted  his  benign  gospel  into  an  instru 
ment  of  oppression,  and  made  his  peace-speaking  cross  an  ensign  of 
carnage  and  devastation.  The  lesson  of  this  volume  is  that  hierarchy, 
in  whatever  form  or  under  whatever  pretence,  is  a  wrong  and  an  evil ; 
that  Christianity  has  no  privileged  order  of  men  ;  that  its  true  priest 
hood  is  that  of  philanthropic  labor  and  self-abnegation ;  and  that  its 
purity  can  be  preserved  and  its  growth  insured  only  under  the  charter 
conveyed  in  the  words  of  its  Founder:  "One  is  your  Master,  even 
Christ,  and  all  ye  are  brethren." 


3.  —  An  English-  Greek  Lexicon.  By  C.  D.  YONGE.  With  many 
new  Articles,  an  Appendix  of  Proper  Names,  and  Pillorfs  Greek 
Synonyms.  [To  which  is  prefixed  an  Essay  on  the  Order  of  Words 
in  Attic  Greek  Prose,  by  CHARLES  SHORT,  LL.  D.]  Edited  by 
HENRY  DRISLER,  LL.  D.  New  York:  Harper  and  Brothers. 
1870.  Large  8vo.  pp.  cxv,  663. 

THE  appearance  of  a  book  like  this  gives  evidence  that  classical 
studies  are  not  expected  either  by  scholars  or  by  publishers  to  succumb 
under  the  pressure  for  a  so-called  "  practical "  education.  As  to  the 
Latin,  indeed,  its  study  offers  advantages  which  the  most  practical 
minded  are  obliged  to  recognize.  To  him  who  has  not  studied  it  the 
nomenclature  of  modern  science  is  an  unintelligible  jargon.  He  is 
shut  out  from  reading  many  most  important  works  in  science,  philos 
ophy,  and  history.  He  fails  of  the  best  help  to  a  ready  acquisition 
and  a  thorough  understanding  of  the  modern  languages  which  come 
from  the  Latin,  and  even  of  the  English,  which  in  half  its  vocabulary 
is  a  Latin  language.  For  the  Greek,  these  obvious  "  practical "  utilities 
can  be  claimed,  if  at  all,  only  in  a  much  inferior  degree.  If  Greek 
shall  continue  to  be  studied,  it  will  be  mainly  for  the  intrinsic  qualities 
of  the  language  and  literature.  The  perfection  of  literary  art,  shining 
through  the  most  perfect  medium  of  expression,  —  this  it  is  which 
Greek  presents  to  the  student,  and  in  this  it  offers  him  the  finest 
instrument  of  culture.  To  put  modern  literature,  however  excellent, 
in  its  place,  is  to  give  an  imperfect  education.  The  modern  we  have 
always  with  us  ;  the  student  cannot,  if  he  would,  escape  from  its 
influence ;  to  correct  and  supplement  it,  he  needs  to  dwell  on  the 


212  Yonge's  English- Cf-reek  Lexicon.  [July, 

special  excellences  of  ancient  art,  its  simplicity,  harmony,  distinctness, 
and  nobleness.  But  aside  from  its  literature,  the  Greek  language 
furnishes  an  unequalled  pal&stra  for  mental  training.  The  intelligent 
and  persistent  effort  to  gain  a  true  appreciation  of  its  richness,  subtlety, 
pliancy,  its  grace  of  form  and  delicacy  of  shading,  is  an  education  in 
itself.  The  study  of  Greek  may  be  subject  to  some  fluctuation ;  for 
there  are  fashions  in  pedagogy,  as  in  other  things ;  but  it  can  never 
cease  to  be  an  element  in  the  highest  education.  There  will  always 
be  an  enlightened  and  influential  opinion  in  its  favor;  and  the  student 
will  be  warned  that  he  cannot  safely  neglect  it,  if  he  wishes  to  obtain 
for  himself  the  fullest  and  finest  culture. 

That  Greek  composition  should  have  a  place  in  the  study  of  the 
language  is  generally  admitted.  It  is  not  enough  that  the  learner 
should  be  taught  to  recognize  the  forms  of  inflection  and  the  principles 
of  syntax  as  he  comes  upon  them  in  the  course  of  his  reading.  To 
make  him  thoroughly  familiar  with  them,  he  must  be  made  to  use 
them  for  his  own  purposes,  to  find  the  words  and  the  modes  of  com 
bination  which  are  required  for  the  expression  of  given  ideas.  The 
necessity  of  doing  this  will  render  him  watchful  in  his  reading,  and  he 
will  notice  and  remember  many  points  of  idiom  which  would  other 
wise  be  overlooked  or  forgotten.  It  is  impossible,  however,  for  the  stu 
dent  to  draw  from  his  own  reading  all  that  he  needs  for  the  success 
ful  cultivation  of  this  exercise.  A  good  English-Greek  dictionary  is 
an  indispensable  necessity ;  the  entire  want  of  such  a  help  for  Ameri 
can  students  is  the  principal  reason  that  Greek  composition  has  been 
so  little  attended  to  among  us.  The  work  now  given  to  the  public  can 
hardly  fail  to  bring  about  a  great  change  in  this  respect.  About  two 
thirds  of  the  volume  is  occupied  with  a  revised  and  enlarged  reprint 
of  Yonge's  English-Greek  Dictionary,  which  was  published  in  England 
in  1849,  and  came  to  a  second  edition  in  1856.  Immediately  on  its 
appearance,  Professor  Drisler  saw  that  it  was  fitted  to  supply  the 
want  so  long  felt  in  our  schools  and  colleges.  His  first  proposals  for 
an  American  republication  were  issued  nearly  twenty  years  ago.  He 
was  not  satisfied,  however,  with  merely  reprinting  the  English  book  : 
he  wished  to  make  it  a  more  complete  and  trustworthy  aid  to  the 
student  of  Greek.  To  one  heavily  burdened  with  duties  of  instruction 
such  a  task  was  necessarily  slow,  and  especially  so  to  one  who  could 
not  content  himself  with  hasty  or  imperfect  execution.  But  the  work 
has  been  delayed  also  by  other  causes ;  among  them,  the  well-remem 
bered  fire  on  Franklin  Square,  which  destroyed  a  whole  library  in 
stereotype-plates. 

The  American  editor,  speaking  in  his  preface  of  the  English  work? 


1870.]  Yong J s  English- Greek  Lexicon.  213 

lavs  a  just  emphasis  on  the  fulness  and  consistency  with  which  it 
gives  authorities  for  all  the  Greek  expressions  that  appear  in  it.  If  a 
Frenchman  writing  English  should  use  a  vocabulary  drawn  without 
distinction  from  Chaucer,  Spenser,  Addison,  Burns,  Scott,  and  Ma- 
caulay,  the  result  would  be  a  strange  medley  of  styles  and  dialects ; 
but  it  would  not  be  stranger  than  a  Greek  composition,  the  words  of 
which  were  taken  with  the  same  freedom  from  Homer,  Pindar, 
Herodotus,  Thucydides,  Plato,  and  Theocritus.  When  Charles  James 
Fox  was  amusing  his  leisure  with  efforts  at  writing  Greek,  his  friend, 
Dr.  Parr,  would  not  allow  him  to  introduce  Homeric  words  where 
an  Attic  style  was  required  ;  and  though  the  great  orator  thought  it 
rather  hard  that  he  should  be  forbidden  to  draw  upon  the  Greek 
author  with  whom  he  was  most  familiar,  every  scholar  must  admit 
the  reasonableness  and  necessity  of  the  restriction.  It  is  essential 
that  the  student  who  uses  an  English-Greek  dictionary  should  know, 
in  regard  to  every  word  set  before  him,  whether  it  was  current  in 
Athenian  use,  or  was  peculiar  to  the  Epic,  Ionic,  or  Doric  dialects ; 
whether  it  belonged  to  the  prose  language,  or  was  confined  to  the 
idiom  of  poetry  ;  whether  it  was  known  in  the  best  times  of  Greek 
literature,  or  is  to  be  found  only  in  later  and  inferior  writers.  So 
obvious  is  this  necessity,  that  one  is  surprised  to  learn  from  the  editor's 
preface,  that  Yonge's  work  was  the  first  of  the  kind  to  give  it  prac 
tical  recognition  by  assigning  authorities  for  every  Greek  word  or 
phrase  admitted  into  it. 

It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  the  American  editor,  in  his  own 
additions  to  the  work,  has  conformed  strictly  to  the  same  rule.  These 
additions  are  carefully  distinguished  by  brackets,  and  are  very  numer 
ous  and  important.  Taken  together,  they  amount,  as  we  judge,  to 
about  a  seventh  of  the  original  book.  Thus,  at  the  very  outset,  the 
indefinite  article  a  or  an,  which  was  omitted  by  Yonge,  is  treated  at 
some  length.  Though  generally  not  expressed  in  Greek,  it  is  often 
represented  by  r\s,  and  not  seldom  by  the  definite  article  6,  9,  TO.  The 
usage  on  these  points  is  clearly  and  happily  stated.  As  we  turn  over 
the  first  pages,  we  meet  with  many  words  which  were  wholly  wanting 
in  the  English  work.  Among  these  are  ecclesiastical  and  religious 
words,  such  as  abbey,  abbot,  advent,  alms,  anabaptist,  anathema, 
anchoret,  archangel,  archbishop,  ark,  ascension,  etc.  Grammatical 
words,  such  as  ablative,  accentuation,  accusative,  adjective,  antepenul 
timate,  antibacchius,  apposition,  archaism,  augment,  etc.  Words  of 
natural  science,  medicine,*and  other  arts,  such  aS  abdomen,  acanthus, 
afterbirth,  agate,  alchemist,  alchemy,  alembic,  aloes,  amaranth,  animal 
cule,  antimony,  aorta,  apothecary,  aquarius,  arc,  astrologer,  astrology, 


214  Yonge's  English- Greek  Lexicon.  [Juty* 

asbestos,  axis,  etc.  And  many  other  words  of  a  miscellaneous  character, 
such  as  A,  B,  G  ( for  alphabet ),  abbreviation,  aborigines,  academic, 
accountant,  account-book,  accretion,  ace,  acerbity,  acquittance,  acrostic, 
actuary,  adaptation,  adieu,  adjournment,  administrator,  ado,  adventurer, 
advertisement,  affidavit,  afflictive,  afflux,  afield,  afresh,  agape,  agri 
cultural,  ah,  aha,  ajar,  akimbo,  alcove,  alderman,  ale,  alias,  allitera 
tion,  allowable,  allusion,  almanac,  etc.  Further,  there  are  many  new 
words  inserted  without  Greek  equivalents,  the  student  being  referred 
for  these  to  other  English  words  of  the  same  meaning,  but  of  more 
frequent  use,  thus  abstinent,  abstract  (subst.),  accommodation,  accouche 
ment,  acropolis,  acumen,  admittance,  affiliation,  afloat,  aft,  etc.  For 
many  words  which  were  inserted  in  the  English  book,  the  American 
editor  has  taken  notice  of  meanings  which  were  overlooked  or  disre 
garded  by  the  English  compiler :  thus  abiding  (=  permanent),  above 
(of  number),  absolute  (in  philosophical  use),  absolution  (of  sins),  abuse 
(==  wrong  use),  etc.  And  in  very  many  cases,  where  no  addition  is 
made  to  the  English  meaning,  the  editor  has  added  to  the  Greek 
words  given  by  Yonge  other  words,  found  in  good  authors,  which  ex 
press  the  same  meaning,  or  has  added  English  phrases  in  which  that 
meaning  admits  of  peculiar  idiomatic  Greek  expression  :  thus  in  abate, 
abatement,  abdicate,  aberration,  abet,  abhor,  abhorrence,  abide,  abject, 
ably,  aboard,  abode,  abomination,  abortive,  abound,  abridgment,  abrQad, 
abrogation,  abrupt,  absence,  absent,  absolutely,  absolve,  abstinence,  ab 
stract  (verb),  abstraction,  absurd,  abundance,  etc.  Many  articles  — 
such  as  abatement,  ability,  able-bodied,  ablution,  abortion,  about,  above, 
abscess,  abscond,  absorb,  abstemious,  abstruse,  etc.  —  have  been  great 
ly  enlarged  by  the  additions  made  to  them.  These  statements  will 
suffice  to  show  that  no  small  amount  of  editorial  labor  has  been  be 
stowed  upon  the  book,  which  has  thus  gained  largely  in  fulness  and 
value. 

It  is,  of  course,  often  necessary  or  desirable  in  Greek  composition  to 
introduce  names  of  persons  or  places.  But  the  Greek  forms  for  such 
names  are  not  always  accessible  to  the  student,  who  has  only  the  ordi 
nary  helps  at  his  disposal.  How  is  he  to  know  that  France  should  be 
rendered  by  KeXriKq  or  TaXarta,  and  Spain  by  'ifirjpia  ?  the  Seine  by 
SrjKodvas,  and  the  Adige  by  'AnVtoj/?  Mt.  Jura  by  'lopas,  and  the  Harz 
Mountains  by  'ApKiwa  0/377  ?  To  meet  these  difficulties,  Professor  Drisler 
has  added  an  appendix  of  about  sixty  pages,  containing  "  a  List  of 
some  of  the  more  important  Greek  Proper  Names."  The  student  will 
find  here  how  to  Hellenize  the  ordinary  personal  names,  Christian 
names,  of  modern  times ;  that,  for  instance,  Charles  is  represented  by 
Kdpov\os,  Robert  by  'Po/wre'proy,  Louis  by  AoSoi'xpos,  Henry  by  'Eppfjs,  a 


1870.]  Yonge1  s  English- Greek  Lexicon.  215 

form  which  Greek  euphony  has  brought  into  a  singular  resemblance 
to  our  Harry.  For  such  names  of  Teutonic  origin,  the  authorities 
can  only  be  late  Byzantine  writers.  Is  no  similar  authority  to  be 
found  for  the  name  William,  which,  we  observe,  is  omitted  from  the 
list? 

The  prefixed  essay  by  Professor  Short,  on  the  "  Order  of  Words  in 
Attic  Greek  Prose,"  occupies  more  than  a  hundred  large  double-column 
pages,  and  supplies  a  serious  defect  in  the  grammatical  treatment  of  the 
language.  It  is  strange  that  a  branch  of  Greek  syntax  so  important 
as  this  should  have  received  hitherto  so  little  attention  from  the  gram 
marians.  Professor  Short  mentions  a  number  of  commentaries  on 
Greek  authors  which  contain  detached  observations  of  more  or  less 
value ;  but  he  has  himself  made  the  first  attempt  to  treat  the  subject  in 
a  systematic  and  thorough-going  way.  The  result  will  be  a  lasting 
monument  to  his  ability  and  energy.  It  would  be  difficult  to  point  out 
any  considerable  product  of  scholarly  research  the  credit  of  which  is 
more  entirely  due  to  the  author  whose  name  it  bears.  He  has  taken 
much  pains  to  collect  the  remarks  of  others,  and  has  rendered  them  full 
justice  in  his  preface ;  but  they  could  do  little  more  than  serve  as  hints 
for  the  guidance  of  his  own  investigations.  How  extended  and  labo 
rious  these  have  been  may  be  inferred  from  the  fact  that  the  citations 
given  here  —  of  course,  only  a  selection  from  the  whole  mass  —  are 
about  fifteen  thousand  in  number.  The  author's  conclusions  are  not 
founded  upon  recollections  of  a  few  passages  which  have  chanced  to 
attract  his  special  attention.  They  are  inductions  drawn  from  a  very 
wide  range  of  carefully  collected  observations,  and  are  thus  fitted  to  in 
spire  confidence  in  their  correctness.  Nor  need  the  student  fear,  when  he 
hears  of  fifteen  thousand  citations,  that  he  will  find  the  essay  a  forest  of 
learning,  in  which  it  will  be  hard  to  make  out  his  position  and  bearings. 
The  industry  with  which  this  immense  mass  of  material  has  been 
brought  together  is  less  remarkable  than  the  perfect  order  with  which 
it  is  arranged  and  presented.  Only  a  mind  singularly  gifted  with  an 
organizing  power  could  have  reduced  this  multitude  of  particulars  to  a 
harmonious  and  intelligible  system.  So  strong  is  the  systematizing 
tendency  that  it  has  led  him  to  minute  uniformities  of  arrangement,  for 
which  his  readers  will  be  the  more  thankful,  as  few  writers  would  have 
taken  the  pains  that  they  require.  Thus,  in  presenting  his  illustrations 
for  each  statement,  he  follows  a  constant  order.  "  In  matters  involv 
ing  the  Verb,  he  has  first  given  cases  of  the  Finite  Verb,  then  of  the 
Infinitive,  and  then  of  the  Participle  and  Verbal  Adjective  ;  in  matters 
involving  the  Adverb,  he  has  given  first  the  Adverb  of  Place,  then  that 
of  Time,  then  that  of  Manner,  and  lastly  that  of  Degree  ;  in  matters  in- 


216  Yonge's  English-Greek  Lexicon.  [July? 

volving  the  Prepositions,  he  has  given  them  in  the  following  order :  eV, 
eiy,  irpos,  «n,  irapd,  di/a,  Kara,  OTTO,  eic,  o-ui>,  fiera,  a//ev,  Trept,  d/x$i,  Trpo,  dm', 
fita,  wcp,  VTJ-O,  eW/ca ;  and  where  a  Preposition  takes  two  or  three  cases 
under  regimen,  these  cases  are  put  in  the  order  of  Declension ;  in  matters 
involving  Conjunctions  and  Conjunctive  Words,  he  has  first  given  those 
of  Place,  then  of  Time,  then  of  Manner,  then  of  Cause,  then  of  Purpose 
or  Result,  then  of  Addition,  then  of  Opposition,  and  lastly  of  Contingency. 
And  in  giving  exceptions  to  general  laws  he  has  in  very  many  in 
stances  brought  forward  again  the  same  phrase  or  clause  with  the  order 
changed.  He  hardly  need  add  how  much  additional  research  and  care 
it  has  cost  him  to  give  these  features  to  the  Essay." 

The  copious  and  clear  analysis  prefixed  to  this  treatise,  and  filling 
nearly  eleven  pages,  will  be  a  valuable  aid  to  all  who  use  it.  It  will 
serve  the  purpose  of  an  index  map,  giving  a  view  of  the  whole  ground, 
showing  the  position  and  relations  of  the  different  parts,  and  making  it 
easy  for  the  reader  to  strike  any  particular  point  that  he  wishes  to  ex 
amine. 

On  a  broad  survey  of  the  treatise,  one  is  strongly  impressed  with  the 
freedom  of  the  Greek  language  in  respect  to  the  collocation  of  words. 
The  conceptions  may  be  expressed  in  almost  any  order  which  is  natural 
for  the  thinking  mind,  or  which  may  serve  to  give  a  desired  prominence 
to  any  element  of  the  proposition.  It  is  among  the  most  valuable  re 
sults  of  Professor  Short's  researches,  that  by  demonstrating  the  usual 
or  normal  order  of  words  he  has  enabled  us  in  many  cases  to  perceive 
the  emphatic  force  which  lies  in  deviations  from  it.  Thus,  he  shows 
that  the  participle  of  manner  or  means  regularly  follows  the  verb  with 
which  it  is  connected ;  where  this  order  is  inverted,  as  in  ^axo^fvoi 
a-neOavov  vnep  Kvpov,  there  is  an  emphasis  on  the  participle.  But  in 
many  cases  the  order  of  words  is  determined  by  an  invariable  usage. 
The  student  who  should  write  olvOa  TTJV  r^av  dwap.iv  could  find  no 
authority  to  defend  him  against  a  charge  of  solecism,  and  in  many  cases 
where  the  order  is  not  quite  invariable,  the  exceptions  are  so  few  that 
the  student  in  his  exercises  should  be  held  to  conformity  with  the  pre 
vailing  usage.  Thus,  he  should  not  be  allowed  to  write  ola-Ba  o-favroC 
TTJV  dvvapiv,  though  examples  of  such  an  arrangement  are  not  wholly 
wanting. 

It  must  not  be  supposed  that  the  volume  before  us  will  be  of  service 
only  to  those  who  are  exercising  themselves  in  Greek  composition.  To 
all  earnest  students  of  the  language  it  offers  instruction  and  assistance  of 
the  highest  value.  The  essay  of  which  we  have  been  speaking  is  essen 
tial  to  a  complete  mastery  of  Qreek  syntax  ;  it  fills  a  gap  which  is  hardly 
less  sensible  in  the  large  Grammars  of  Buttmann,  Kiihner,  and  Krtiger 


1870.]        Hettners  Literature  of  the  Eighteenth  Century.     217 

than  in  the  smaller  manuals  ordinarily  used  in  our  schools  and  colleges. 
In  like  manner,  the  appended  treatise  on  Greek  Synonyms  translated 
from  the  French  of  Alex.  Pillon,  is  the  only  full  and  comprehensive  work 
on  the  important  subject  which  it  treats.  It  is  the  only  systematic  at 
tempt  to  bring  together  Greek  words  of  nearly  identical  meaning,  and  to 
trace  out  the  differences  of  sense  or  use  by  which  they  are  distinguished. 
One  excellent  feature  of  it  is  the  constant  separation  of  poetic  usage 
from  that  of  prose,  a  separation  marked  by  difference  of  type,  and  thus 
impressed  on  the  eye  as  well  as  the  understanding.  Even  as  regards 
the  English-Greek  vocabulary,  it  would  be  a  mistake  to  consider  it  as 
of  use  only  in  composition.  In  the  reading  of  authors,  it  is  often  a 
matter  of  interest  to  see  in  what  way  or  ways  a  given  idea  may  be  ex 
pressed  by  the  language.  As  the  result  of  such  an  inquiry,  one  may 
be  led  to  give  up  what  had  before  seemed  a  plausible  interpretation,  by 
finding  that  the  sense  at  first  thought  of  would  require  some  different 
form  of  expression. 

Looking  on  the  volume  as  a  whole,  we  do  not  hesitate  to  pronounce 
it  a  most  welcome  and  important  addition  to  the  means  of  classical 
study  in  this  country.  It  is  a  work  which  every  college  student  should 
have  at  hand  for  consultation  and  reference.  We  may  add  that  the 
typographical  execution  is  singularly  clear  and  beautiful,  and  that  great 
pains  have  evidently  been  taken  with  the  proof-reading. 


4.  —  Literaturgeschichte  des  achtzehnten  Jahrhunderts.  Von  HERMANN 
HETTNER.  In  drei  Theilen.  Erster  Theil :  Geschichte  der  eng- 
lischen  Literatur  von  1660  Us  1770.  8vo.  pp.  x,  537.  Zweiter 
Theil:  Geschichte  der  franzb'sischen  Literatur  im  -18.  Jahrhundert. 
8vo.  pp.  ix,  553.  Dritter  Theil :  Geschichte  der  deutschen  Litera 
tur  im  18.  Jahrhundert.  In  drei  Buchern.  8vo.  pp.  viii,  430  ;  vi, 
631;  vi,  416.  Braunschweig:  Friedrich  Vievveg  und  Sohn.  1869. 

"  IF  it  should  be  asked,"  says  Kant,  "  whether  we  are  now  living  in 
an  enlightened  age,  I  should  answer,  No,  but  in  an  age  of  enlighten 
ment."  It  is  this  Zeitalter  der  Aufklarung,  this  transitional,  clearing- 
.up  period,  that  Herr  Hettner,  in  his  "  History  of  the  Literature  of  the 
Eighteenth  Century,"  aims  to  describe  and  to  analyze.  His  work 
has,  therefore,  a  much  wider  scope  than  its  title  indicates,  and  is 
nothing  less  than  an  attempt  to  sketch  the  most  salient  features  of  the 
great  intellectual  revolution,  which  followed  as  a  corollary  to  the  Refor 
mation,  and,  by  a  broader  assertion  of  the  sovereignty  of  individual 
reason  in  opposition  to  tradition  and  authority,  enfranchised  modern 


218        Hettner's  Literature  of  the  Eighteenth  Century.     [July, 

thought  and  gave  to  the  human  mind  the  full  consciousness  of  its 
dignity  and  freedom.  In  the  first  volume  he  traces  the  origin  and 
development  of  this  general  movement  through  its  incipient  stages 
in  England,  where  the  political  and  religious  liberty  secured  by  the 
overthrow  of  the  Stuarts,  the  permanent  triumph  of  constitutionalism 
in  the  accession  of  William  of  Orange,  the  brilliant  scientific  discover 
ies  of  Newton  and  the  clear  and  comprehensible  empirical  philosophy 
of  Locke  prepared  the  popular  mind  for  a  favorable  reception  and 
a  rapid  germination  of  the  ideas  which  Bayle,  Descartes,  Spinoza, 
Leibnitz,  Thomasius,  Lessing,  and  Reiinarus  had  endeavored  to  sow 
here  and  there  on  the  Continent,  but  which  had  fallen  too  often  on 
hard  and  stony  soil  and  soon  withered  away,  because  they  had  no 
deepness  of  earth  in  which  to  take  root.  The  condition  of  France, 
which  forced  Descartes  to  find  an  asylum  in  Stockholm,  and  compelled 
Bayle  to  write  his  Philosophical  Dictionary  at  Rotterdam,  is  pithily 
and  truthfully  described  by  La  Bruyere  when  he  says :  "  Un  homme 
ne  chretien  et  Frangais  se  trouve  contraint  dans  la  satire  ;  les  grands 
sujets  lui  sont  defendus."  But  although  England  was  the  nursery 
of  these  principles,  she  was  too  isolated,  not  only  in  geographical  po 
sition,  but  also  in  language  and  manners,  to  be  an  efficient  expositor 
of  them  to  the  rest  of  the  world.  She  needed  an  interpreter  between 
herself  and  mankind  in  order  to  make  her  discoveries  in  science,  poli 
tics,  metaphysics,  ethics,  and  theology  cosmopolitan.  This  medium 
of  communication  she  found  in  France.  Voltaire  and  Montesquieu 
visited  England  and  became  inspired  with  the  most  ardent  enthusiasm 
for  English  ideas  and  English  institutions  ;  and  while  the  former  fa 
miliarized  his  countrymen  with  the  theories  of  Newton  and  Locke, 
the  latter  expounded  and  extolled  to  them  the  spirit  of  the  British 
constitution.  Thus  began  the  period  of  the  French  eclaircissement, 
to  the  history  and  criticism  of  which  Hettner  devotes  the  second 
volume  of  his  Liter aturgeschichte.  He  divides  it  into  three  epochs. 
The  first  is  the  epoch  of  English  deism  (die  Epoche  des  aus  England 
'uberkommenen  Deismus),  of  which  Voltaire  was  the  chief  represent 
ative  and  exponent,  directing  his  attacks  against  supernatural  revela 
tion  and  ecclesiasticism,  but  holding  fast  to  the  doctrines  of  a  personal 
God  and  of  personal  immortality.  As  a  religious  polemic,.  Voltaire 
only  continued,  with  keener  weapons  and  bolder  strategy,  the  warfare 
which  Bayle,  Tindal,  Toland,  and  Shaftesbury  had  waged  before  him. 
Frederick  the  Great  defined  the  historical  position  of  Voltaire  very  con 
cisely  in  a  letter  written  to  him  February  10,  1767,  in  which  he  says : 
"  Bayle  began  the  conflict ;  a  number  of  Englishmen  followed  him ; 
you  are  called  to  finish  it."  No  man  ever  possessed  a  more  deep  and 


1870.]     Hettner's  Literature  of  the  Eighteenth  Century.        219 

abiding  conviction  of  the  existence  of  a  God.  To  the  atheists  he 
replied,  "  Vous  existez,  done  il  y  a  un  Dieu."  As  he  reduced  all 
metaphysics  to  ethics,  so  he  reduced  all  ethics  to  theism :  "  without 
God,  no  morality."  In  the  Profession  de  Foi  des  Theistes  he  says, 
"  We  condemn  atheism,  detest  superstition,  love  God  and  man,  this  is 
our  creed."  And  finally  it  was  not  mere  verbal  wit  and  rhodomon- 
tade,  but  an  expression  of  the  same  profound  belief  when  he  wrote 
to  Prince  Henry  of  Prussia  the  well-known  words  :  u  Si  Dieu  n'exis- 
tait  pas,  il  faudrait  1'inventer ;  mais  tbute  la  nature  nous  crie,  qu'il 
existe."  Meanwhile  Montesquieu,  who  sympathized  with  these  opin 
ions,  wrote  his  Causes  de  la  Grandeur  des  Romains  et  de  leur  De 
cadence  and  his  Esprit  des  Lois,  in  which  he  developed  a  philosophy 
of  representative  government  and  theories  of  political  liberty  that 
turned  the  heads  of  all  Frenchmen  from  the  savant  to  the  petit- 
ma/itre  and  produced  an  entire  revolution  in  the  spirit  of  the  nation. 
He  also  directed  attention  to  the  industrial  condition  of  the  country, 
and  declared  that  the  productivity  of  the  land  depended  less  on  the 
fertility  of  the  soil  than  on  the  freedom  of  the  inhabitants.  Thus 
by  the  side  of  Voltaire  and  Montesquieu  grew  up  a  school  of  econ 
omists  of  whom  Quesnay  was  the  coryphaeus,  and  who  asserted  agri 
culture  to  be  the  sole  and  exclusive  source  of  national  wealth,  all 
other  occupations,  mechanical,  commercial,  and  professional,  being  re 
garded  as  unproductive  and  parasitical.  The  zeal  of  this  school  of 
"  physiocrats "  (as  they  called  themselves)  was  untiring  and  their 
success  brilliant.  "  The  nation,"  says  Voltaire,  "  weary  of  verses, 
tragedies,  comedies,  operas,  romances,  and  theological  wranglings,  be 
gan  finally  to  reflect  upon  the  importance  of  grain."  Princes  and 
statesmen  became  interested  in  the  cultivation  of  the  soil  and  the 
elevation  of  the  peasantry.  And  although  the  fundamental  principle 
of  physiocratie  has  been  demonstrated  by  Adam  Smith  to  be  scien 
tifically  untenable,  and  although  the  political  theories  of  the  economists 
resulted  logically  in  a  democratic  despotism,  with  the  abolition  of  all 
proprietary  rights  and  the  complete  absorption  of  the  personality  of 
the  citizen  into  the  state,  yet  the  beneficent  influence  of  Quesnay's 
doctrine  as  a  reaction  against  the  so-called  mercantile  system  with 
its  privileges  and  monopolies,  and  the  relief  which  he  brought  to  the 
over-taxed  and  down-trodden  agricultural  classes,  cannot  be  too  highly 
estimated.  The  system  of  checks  and  balances,  which  prevents  one 
branch  of  government  from  encroaching  upon  the  others  and  thus 
secures  the  maximum  of  liberty  and  order,  was  an  abomination  in  the 
eyes  of  the  economists  :  "Lesystemede  contreforces"  says  Quesnay,  "est 
une  idee  funeste."  The  aesthetics  and  criticism  of  this  period  are  em- 


220         Hettner's  Literature  of  the  Eighteenth  Century.     [July, 

bodied  in  the  works  of  Dubos  and  Batteux.  The  second  epoch  of  the 
eclaircissement  is  that  of  avowed  atheism  and  materialism,  of  which 
Diderot  and  the  Encyclopaedists  were  the  foremost  representatives. 
Voltaire  had  asserted  the  existence  of  an  extraneous  immaterial  es 
sence  underlying  and  animating  all  material  substance  (toute  matiere, 
qui  agit,  nous  mohtre  un  etre  immateriel,  qui  agit  sur  elle).  Diderot 
and  his  disciples  affirmed  that  life  and  movement  were  inherent  in 
matter  itself;  no  substance  without  force,  no  force  without  substance  ; 
theology  and  metaphysics  reduced  to  natural  science.  Through  the 
salons  of  Madame  Necker,  Madame  Quinault,  Madame  d'Epinay,  the 
Countess  d'Houdetot  and  Baron  Holbach,  whom  Galiani  called  Le 
vnaitre  d'hotel  de  la  philosophic,  the  principles  of  the  encyclopedia 
became  the  general  theme  of  conversation  in  fashionable  life.  The 
king  was  delighted  to  find  in  these  volumes  a  full  account  of  the  manu 
facture  of  gunpowder,  and  the  Marquise  de  Pompadour  could  discover 
nowhere  more  accurate  information  concerning  the  preparation  of  po 
made.  Free-thinking  pervaded  the  atmosphere  of  the  Tuileries  and 
Versailles ;  it  was  a  badge  of  aristocracy  to  be  sceptical  in  religion  and 
progressive  in  politics ;  the  nobleman  declaimed  against  despotism  and 
the  abbe  against  fanaticism.  The  ethics  of  this  period  find  their  ulti 
mate  expression  in  the  unmitigated  sensualism  of  Helvetius  and  La 
Mettrie ;  the  poetry  and  art,  in  Sedaine's  Le  Philosophe  sans  le  savoir, 
in  the  landscapes  of  Claude  Joseph  Vernet  and  especially  in  the  charm 
ing  genre  pictures  of  Greuze,  whose  na'ive  and  voluptuous  village  maid 
ens  (as,  for  example,  in  L'Accordee  du  Village  and  La  Cruche  cassee 
in  the  Louvre)  look  as  though  they  might  have  been  designed  for 
illustrations  to  Diderot's  romances.  The  third  and  last  epoch  is  that 
of  Rousseau  and  sentimentalism.  It  consisted  in  a  reaction  and  revolt 
of  the  heart  against  the  tyranny  of  the  understanding,  a  return  to  spir 
itualism,  God,  and  immortality,  not  on  the  ground  of  revelation,  but 
in  obedience  to  a4  longing  of  the  soul,  an  impulse  of  the  emotions. 
Thus  Rousseau  was  at  once  the  heir  and  the  antagonist  of  the  eclair 
cissement.  This  self-assertion  of  the  heart,  of  which  the  vague  Ge- 
fuhlsphilosophie  of  Hamann,  Herder,  and  Jacobi  was  an  echo,  ex 
pressed  itself  critically  and  polemically  in  Rousseau's  two  prize-essays 
on  the  influence  of  the  arts  and  sciences  and  on  the  origin  of  inequal 
ity  among  men,  constructively  and  positively  in  Emile  and  Du  Con- 
trat  social.  Out  of  the  same  root  grew  the  socialistic  speculations  of 
Mably,  Raynal,  and  Morelly,  the  idyllic  dreams  of  Bernardin  de  Saint 
Pierre,  and  the  caustic  dramas  of  Beaumarchais.  The  whole  literature 
of  this  period  is  either  a  sentimental  longing  after  nature  or  a  satirical 
warfare  against  conventionality,  resulting  in  both  cases  from  the  same 


1870.]     Hettner^  s  Literature  of  the  Eighteenth  Century.       221 

painful  sense  of  incongruity  between  right  and  law,  feeling  and  tra 
dition,  aspiration  and  prejudice.  Most  of  the  pastorals  and  romances, 
in  which  this  melancholy  and  quiescent  mood  found  utterance,  showed 
neither  vigor  of  thought  nor  vitality  of  any  kind,  and  may  be  fittingly 
described  by  the  term  which  Marie  Antoinette  applied  to  Florian's 
Numa  Pompilius,  "  sweetish  milk-pap."  But  the  genius  of  Bernardin 
de  Saint  Pierre  exerted  a  deep  and  permanent  influence,  as  is  evident 
from  the  impression  which  it  made  upon  the  mind  of  Alexander  von 
Humboldt,  who  in  the  "  Kosmos  "  pays  a  just  tribute  to  his  faithful 
descriptions  of  nature,  and  is  reminded  of  Paul  et  Virginie  whenever 
he  looks  up  at  the  brilliant  cross  of  the  southern  sky.  The  three 
volumes  in  which  Hettner  treats  the  "  History  of  German  Literature  in 
the  Eighteenth  Century,"  follow  the  Avfklarung  through  all  the  stages 
of  its  logical  and  chronological  development  in  German  philosophy, 
theology,  politics,  science,  and  art.  The  first  volume  gives  a  brief  pre 
liminary  survey  of  German  culture  during  the  sixteenth  and  seventeenth 
centuries,  and  then  traces  its  continuous  growth  from  the  Peace  of  West 
phalia  to  the  accession  of  Frederick  the  Great  (1648  — 1740)  ;  it  is  the 
age  of  Thomasius,  Leibnitz,  Wolff,  Gottsched,  Bodmer,  and  Breitinger, 
of  pietism  and  dawning  rationalism  in  religion  and  philosophy,  of  morbid 
renaissance  and  frigid  and  fantastic  rococo  in  art.  The  second  volume 
describes  the  age  of  Friedrich  the  Great,  the  triumph  of  rationalism  and 
the  so-called  Popularphilosophie,  and  the  historical  position  and  intellect 
ual  activity  of  Klopstock,  Wieland,  Nicolai,  Mendelssohn,  Lessing,  and 
Winckelmann ;  whilst  in  the  third  volume  we  have  a  delineation  of  the 
classic  age  of  German  literature,  beginning  with  the  storm  and  stress 
period  (which  originated  in  an  effort  to  enlarge  the  limits  of  the  Auf- 
klarung,  as  the  Aufkldruug  itself  had  resulted  from  resistance  to  the 
narrow,  dogmatic  Lutheranism  into  which  the  Reformation  degen 
erated),  and  closing  with  the  reconciliation  of  the  antithesis  of  nature 
and  culture  in  the  productions  of  Schiller  and  Goethe.  "  The  real  root 
of  the  German  storm  and  stress  period,"  says  Hettner,  "  is  Rousseau's 
gospel  of  nature."  Indeed,  his  influence  has  always  been  far  greater 
in  Germany  than  in  France.  Even  Kant,  who  was  the  foe  of  all  fanat 
icism,  and  had  little  sympathy  with  enthusiasts,  could  not  escape  the 
magic  of  the  Genevan  sentimentalist,  in  whose  writings  he  became 
one  day  so  deeply  absorbed  that  he  forgot  to  take  his  usual  walk,  a 
neglect  of  which  he  was  never  guilty  before  nor  afterwards.  Herder 
as  student  at  Konigsberg  and  afterwards  as  teacher  in  Riga,  and 
Goethe,  in  Strasburg,  were  zealous  adherents  of  Rousseau,  although, 
perhaps,  Hettner  is  somewhat  extravagant  in  affirming  that  "  without 
Rousseau,  Werther  and  Faust  are  inconceivable."  Heinse  character- 


222     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     [July, 

izes  himself  as  a  "  verfeinerten  Rousseauisten"  In  the  plays  and 
novels  of  Klinger,  the  most  manly  and  versatile  of  the  Sturmer  und 
Drdnger^  Rousseau  reappears  on  every  page ;  and  the  same  inspira 
tion  works  in  all  the  earlier  dramas  of  Schiller,  from  "  The  Robbers  " 
to  "  Don  Carlos."  Niebuhr,  too,  tells  us  in  his  lectures  on  history  how 
in  his  youth  "  Rousseau  was  the  hero  of  all  who  were  struggling  after 
freedom."  Even  English  parks  (englische  Garten)  became  popular 
in  Germany  chiefly  because  their  charms  had  been  so  warmly  praised 
in  La  Nouvelle  Ueloise,  and  soon  there  was  hardly  a  pleasure-ground 
laid  out  that  did  not  contain  a  retired  grove  or  an  artificial  island 
adorned  with  the  bust  of  the  illustrious  Genevese.  This  influence 
of  Rousseau  on  the  German  mind  in  the  directions  indicated  is  one 
of  the  most  curious  and  interesting  facts  in  literary  history.  But  we 
have  no  space  to  discuss  it  here.  In  calling  attention  to  this  work, 
we  have  endeavored  to  give  the  reader  a  general  idea  of  its  scope  and 
tendency.  An  adequate  conception  of  its  rich  contents  and  of  the 
author's  clear  and  terse  style  can  be  obtained  only  from  the  volumes 
themselves.  Herr  Hettner  writes  with  a  directness  of  thought  and 
language  and  a  freedom  from  syntactic  involutions  as  rare  as  they 
are  refreshing  in  German  books.  As  a  critic  he  is  keen  and  often 
severe,  yet  comprehensive  and  discriminating.  Very  seldom  do  his 
sympathies  bribe  or  obscure  his  judgment.  Although  positive  in  his 
opinions,  he  is  in  no  sense  a  partisan  or  a  one-sided  theorist,  but  every 
where  a  high-minded  and  broad-minded  man  of  letters.  What  Lessing 
prized  as  "  the  one  inward  impulse  after  truth  "  is  the  inciting  and 
guiding  principle  of  his  investigations. 


5.  —  An  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     By  JOHN  HENRY 
NEWMAN,  D.  D.,  of  the  Oratory.    New  York.     1870.     pp.  479. 

UNDER  this  title,  carefully  avoiding  the  suggestion  of  a  treatise  on 
logic  or  metaphysical  science,  we  have  in  fact  a  discussion,  by  one  of 
the  acutest  of  living  reasoners,  of  the  fundamental  question  of  modern 
philosophy,  —  the  question  of  Descartes,  of  Hume,  of  Kant,  —  namely, 
What  is  the  real'  ground  of  Belief?  The  Catholic  theologian  is  no 
scholastic,  but  shares  the  tendency  of  his  time  towards  science  and 
psychological  analysis,  and  stands  on  the  same  philosophical  ground 
with  his  countrymen,  Mill,  Bain,  and  Spencer.  Like  them  he  is  a 
man  of  facts  and  a  despiser  of  abstractions,  and  he  brings  to  these 
difficult  discussions  a  precision  and  tenacity  of  mental  grasp  and  a  skill 
in  statement  which  give  to  the  Essay,  apart  from  its  theological  merits, 


1870.]     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     223 

a  high  value  as  illustrating  from  an  independent  point  of  view  of  the 
metaphysical  substratum  which  underlies  English  thought  in  its  most 
various  manifestations.  His  motto  is,  "Not  by  dialectics  did  it  please 
God  to  save  his  people  " ;  not  by  the  careful  manipulation  of  proposi 
tions,  nor  by  any  process  which  we  can  fully  explain,  or  of  which  we 
are  fully  conscious,  do  we  apprehend  truth,  but  by  a  direct  personal 
sense  of  it,  —  a  perception  without  assignable  media  of  perceiving. 
The  common  starting-point  of  these  philosophers  is  the  finality,  the 
unconditional  truth  of  direct  consciousness.  "  Whatever  is  known  to 
us  by  consciousness,"  says  Mr.  J.  S.  Mill,  "is  known  beyond  possibility 
of  question.  What  one  sees  or  feels,  whether  bodily  or  mentally,  one 
cannot  but  be  sure  that  one  sees  or  feels."  "  If  we  feel  hot  or  chilly," 
says  Dr.  Newman,  "  no  one  will  convince  us  to  the  contrary  by  insist 
ing  that  the  glass  is  at  60°."  This  direct  certitude  is  a  question  of 
fact,  not  of  logic ;  either  we  have  it  or  we  have  it  not.  When  we 
have  it,  it  is  necessarily  unconditional  and  final.  Inference,  on  the 
other  hand,  is  always  conditional,  because  it  does  not  deal  directly 
with  thing?,  but  with  notions,  previous  judgments,  from  which  a  fur 
ther  conclusion  is  inferred.  In  my  assertion  that  I  feel  hot  or  chilly 
there  is  no  room  for  mistake,  for  the  premises  and  the  conclusion  are 
identical.  But  if  I  go  on  to  infer  that  the  weather  is  hot  or  cold,  I  go 
beyond  the  momentary  feeling,  of  which  I  am  certain,  and  assert  some 
thing  of  which  there  can  be  no  direct  experience,  — -1  something  which 
has  indeed  no  existence,  no  counterpart  out  of  the  mind,  an  abstrac 
tion  created  by  an  act  of  the  mind  itself.  Thus  inference  always  comes 
short  of  proof  in  concrete  matters,  because  it  has  not  a  full  command 
over  the  objects  to  which  it  relates.  It  deals  with  abstractions,  not 
with  realities.  When  people  speak  of  degrees  of  certainty  in  our 
assent  it  is  inference  they  are  thinking  of,  not  assent.  Certitude,  or 
real  assent  in  its  normal  completeness,  is  in  its  nature  absolute  and 
indefectible.  It  can  neither  be  discredited,  lost,  nor  reversed.  For  cer 
titude  is  only  the  normal  act  of  the  mind  as  soon  as  it  stands  in  a  cer 
tain  position  towards  a  fact,  —  like  the  striking  of  the  clock  when  the 
hands  reach  the  hour.  The  clock  may  be  wrong ;  but  it  is  not  wrong 
that  it  should  strike.  It  may  turn  out  that  my  certitude  is  unfounded  ; 
but  then  it  is  my  reasoning  that  is  at  fault,  not  my  assent  to  it.  The 
indefectibility  of  certitude  does  not  mean  its  infallibility.  It  is  not  a 
gift  or  faculty  for  knowing  the  truth  as  to  all  possible  propositions  in  a 
given  subject-matter,  nor  does  it  regard  the  relation  of  a  given  con 
clusion  towards  its  premises,  but  only  the  relation  of  the  conclusion 
towards  the  mind  of  a  particular  individual.  The  only  test!  of  certitude 
is  the  feeling  itself,  a  specific  sense  of  intellectual  satisfaction  and 


224     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     [July, 

repose  that  accompanies  it ;  and  this  is  not  proved  to  be  irrational  by 
showing  that  it  is  founded  on  a  mistake.  "  Suppose  I  am  walking  out* 
in  the  moonlight,  and  see  dimly  the  outlines  of  some  figure  among  the 
trees  ;  —  it  is  a  man.  I  draw  nearer,  —  it  is  still  a  man  ;  nearer  still, 
and  all  hesitation  is  at  an  end,  — r  I  am  certain  that  it  is  a  man.  But 
he  neither  moves  nor  speaks  when  I  address  him ;  and  then  I  ask  my 
self  what  can  be  his  purpose  in  hiding  among  the  trees  at  such  an  hour. 
I  come  quite  close  to  him,  and  put  out  my  arm.  Then  I  find  for  cer 
tain  that  what  I  took  for  a  man  is  but  a  singular  shadow,  formed  by  the 
falling  of  the  moonlight  on  the  interstices  of  some  branches  or  their 
foliage.  Am  I  not  to  indulge  my  second  certitude  because  I  was 
wrong  in  my  first  ?  Does  not  any  objection,  which  lies  against  my 
second  from  the  failure  of  my  first,  fade  away  before  the  evidence  on 
which  my  second  is  founded  ?  " 

The  obvious  criticism  upon  this  reasoning  is  that  it  leaves  truth  out 
of  the  question,  and  looks  only  to  the  impression  made  on  the  mind  of 
a  particular  person.  Belief  is  in  this  view  a  psychological  phenomenon 
which  begins  and  ends  in  the  individual,  and  is  not  to  be  measured  by 
any  common  standard.  The  strength  of  our  assents,  Dr.  Newman  tells 
us,  does  not  vary  with  the  evidence,  but  with  the  effect  upon  the  im 
agination.  Their  validity  then  will  be  equally  restricted.  Our  per 
ception  of  truth  is  only  a  personal  affection,  which  is,  indeed,  in  each 
instance  complete,  final ;  but,  for  that  very  reason,  of  no  account  for 
other  people.  Truth  should  be  true  for  all ;  but  our  private  im 
pressions  cannot  have  this  extent.  The  more  total  and  absorbing  the 
impression,  the  more  unique  and  incommunicable.  What  Dr.  New 
man  calls  our  real  assents  —  in  other  words,  our  feelings  - —  are  indeed 
unconditional ;  but  this  is  because  they  assert  only  their  own  existence. 
If  they  asserted  anything  more,  they  would  no  longer  be  direct  assents ; 
they  would  be  inferences.  That  I  feel  hot  or  chilly  is  certain,  because 
in  saying  this  I  assert  nothing  more  than  my  own  sensation.  But  if 
my  assertion  is  to  have  any  meaning,  if  it  is  to  be  intelligible,  it  must 
contain  something  more  than  this  ;  it  must  imply  that  the  object  of  the 
sensation  exists  independently  of  my  momentary  feeling.  This  involves 
an  inference ;  the  conclusion  is  not  already  given  in  the  premises  by 
direct  consciousness,  and  therefore  is  no  longer  unconditional.  More 
over,  since  my  feelings  are  only  my  feelings,  I  cannot  assume  that  they 
will  agree  with  the  feelings  of  another.  We  may  fancy  that  we  under 
stand  each  other,  and  that  our  words  mean  the  same  thing ;  but  in 
reality  we  are  talking  at  cross-purposes.  It  is  the  same  difficulty 
which  occurs  to  the  reader  of  Mr.  Mill's  "  Logic,"  when  he  is  told 
that  the  premises  of  all  our  knowledge  are  furnished  by  direct  con- 


1870.]     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     225 

sciousness,  without  any  admixture  of  reasoning,  and  at  the  same  time 
that  the  meaning  of  all  the  names  we  give  to  objects  resides  not  in 
what  the  names  directly  denote,  but  in  what  they  connote,  —  that  is, 
in  the  results  of  reasoning  about  them.  Dr.  Newman  is  not  insensible 
to  this  difficulty,  which  touches  him  in  Locke's  proposition  that  the 
love  of  truth  cannot  carry  any  assent  above  the  evidence  there  is  to 
one  that  it  is  true,  and  that  all  assent  beyond  the  degrees  of  this  evi 
dence  is  owing  to  some  other  affection,  and  not  to  the  love  of  truth.  It 
follows  then,  that,  since  in  our  reasonings  about  matters  of  fact  we  can 
have  for  the  most  part  only  probable  evidence,  unconditional  assent  to 
any  proposition  which  is  not  supported  either  by  intuition  or  demon 
stration  is  irrational  and  wrong.  This  is  a  conclusion  which  seems  to 
Dr.  Newman,  as  it  does  to  us,  inadmissible.  He  avoids  it  by  saying 
that  Locke's  view  of  the  human  mind,  in  relation  to  inference  and 
assent,  is  "  theoretical  and  unreal "  ;  that  "  he  consults  his  own  ideal 
of  what  ought  to  be.  instead  of  interrogating  human  nature,  as  an  ex 
isting  thing,  as  it  is  found  in  the  world.  Instead  of  going  by  the  testi 
mony  of  psychological  facts,  and  thereby  determining  our  constitutive 
faculties  and  our  proper  condition,  and  being  content  with  the  mind  as 
God  has  made  it,  he  would  form  men,  as  he  thinks  they  ought  to  be 
formed,  into  something  better  and  higher;  and  calls  them  irrational 
and  immoral  if  (so  to  speak)  they  take  to  the  water  instead  of  remain 
ing  under  the  narrow  wings  of  his  own  arbitrary  theory." 

If  Locke's  theory  is  arbitrary,  let  us  replace  it  by  one  more  in  ac 
cordance  with  the  facts,  —  let  us  not  content  ourselves  with  simply 
denying  his  conclusions.  The  fact  alleged  is  that  many  truths  neither 
intuitive  nor  demonstrative  are  yet  unconditionally  accepted  by  us.  We 
are  sure  beyond  all  hazard  of  mistake  that  there  is  an  external  world,  a 
universe  carried  on  by  laws,  and  that  the  future  is  affected  by  the  past. 
We  know  that  the  earth  contains  vast  tracts  of  land  and  water;  that 
there  are  really  existing  cities  on  definite  sites,  though  neither  of  these 
things  is  demonstrable  nor  a  matter  of  direct  consciousness.  We  know 
that  we  were  born  and  shall  die,  though  we  have  no  memory  of  our 
birth  and  no  experience  of  the  future.  We  feel  that  we  can  trust  our 
friends,  and  we  are  aware  of  hostility  and  injustice  towards  us.  We 
may  have  an  overpowering  sense  of  our  moral  weakness,  and  of  the 
precariousness  of  life,  health,  wealth,  position,  and  good  fortune.  We 
may  have  a  sense  of  the  presence  of  the  Supreme  tieing  which  has 
never  been  dimmed,  and  we  may  be  able  so  to  realize  the  precepts 
and  truths  of  Christianity  as  deliberately  to  surrender  our  life  rather 
than  transgress  the  one  or  deny  the  other.  That  on  all  these  truths  we 
have  an  immediate  and  unhesitating  hold,  although  we  cannot  reach  them 

VOL.  CXI.  —  NO.  228.  15 


226     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     [July, 

through  a  series  of  intuitive  propositions,  as  a  general  fact  is  undeniable. 
The  question  is  how  this  unconditional  assurance  of  truth,  the  existence 
of  which  nobody  denies,  can  be  justified  on  the  hypothesis  that  all 
things  in  the  world  are,  as  Dr.  Newman  says  they  are,  unit  and  indi 
vidual  ?  Our  relation  to  the  objects  of  our  experience,  in  Dr.  New 
man's  opinion  as  in  Locke's,  is  that  of  individual  things  to  each  other. 
"  Each  thing  has  its  own  nature  and  its  own  history.  When  the  his 
tory  and  the  nature  of  many  things  are  similar,  we  say  that  they 
have  the  same  nature ;  but  there  is  no  such  thing  as  one  and  the 
sarnie  nature ;  they  are  each  of  them  itself,  not  identical,  but  like." 
So  are  men*  units.  "  John,  Richard,  and  Robert  are  individual  things, 
independent,  incommunicable.  We  may  find  some  kind  of  common 
measure  between  them,  and  we  may  give  it  the  name  of  man,  man  as 
such,  the  typical  man,  the  auto-anthropos.  We  are  justified  in  so  do 
ing  and  in  investing  it  with  general  attributes,  and  bestowing  on  it 
what  we  consider  a  definition.  But  we  go  on  to  impose  our  definition 
on  the  whole  race  and  to'  every  member  of  it,  to  the  thousand  Johns, 
Richards,  and  Roberts  who  are  found  in  it.  Each  of  them  is  what  he 
is  in  spite  of  it.  Not  any  one  of  them  is  man,  as  such,  or  coincides 
with  the  auto-anthropos.  Another  John  is  not  necessarily  rational  be 
cause  '  all  men  are  rational/  for  he  may  be  an  idiot ;  nor  because 
'  man  is  a  being  of  progress '  does  the  second  Richard  progress,  for  he 
may  be  a  dunce  ;  nor  because  *  man  is  made  for  society '  must  we  go 
on  to  deny  that  the  second  Robert  is  a  gypsy  or  a  bandit,  as  he  is  found 
to  be.  There  is  no  such  thing  as  a  stereotyped  humanity ;  it  must 
ever  be  a  vague,  bodiless  idea,  because  the  concrete  units  from  which 
it  is  formed  are  independent  realities."  "  Each  is  himself  and  nothing 
else,  and  though  regarded  abstractedly,  the  two  may  fairly  be  said  to 
have  something  in  common,  namely,  that  abstract  sameness  which  does 
not  exist  at  all ;  yet,  strictly  speaking,  they  have  nothing  in  common, 
for  they  have  a  vested  interest  in  all  that  they  respectively  are  .  .  . 
so  that  instead  of  saying,  as  logicians  say,  that  the  two  men  differ  only 
in  number,  we  ought  rather  to  say  that  they  diifer  from  each  other  in 
all  that  they  are,  in  identity,  in.  incommunicability,  in  personality." 
Thus  every  one  who  reasons  is  his  own  centre,  must  speak  for  him 
self,  and  can  speak  for  no  one  else ;  and  no  expedient  for  attaining  a 
common  measure  of  minds  can  reverse  this  truth.  Now  this  is  just 
what  Locke  asserts,  and  Dr.  Newman  only  pushes  the  same  reasoning 
further.  Likeness  is  a  vague  word,  and  when  we  say  that  things 
are  like,  or.  that  men  have  something  in  common,  we  are  describing 
only  hypotheses  of  our  own,  not  anything  definite  or  belonging  to  the 
nature  of  these  objects.  No  wonder  that  from  this  point  of  view  it 


1870.]     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     227 

should  appear  that  inference  in  the  concrete  never  reaches  more  than 
probability.      Rather,  we  should   say,  every  inference  is    unfounded. 
In  spite  of  the  want  of  evidence,  however,  we  are  constantly  receiving 
propositions  as  true   and  universal  of  which  the  truth  is  neither  intui 
tive  nor  demonstrated,  and  none  of  us  can  think  or  act  without  doing 
so.     All  human  speech  and  intercourse  presuppose   a  common  meas 
ure  of  individual   feelings,  a    universal  for  every  unit.      "  Let  units 
come  first,"  says   Dr.  Newman,  "  and   (so-called)  universals,  second ; 
let  universals  minister  to  units,  not  units  be  sacrificed  to  universals." 
This  is  easier  said  than  done.     Every  word  we  use  is  the  name  of  a 
thought,  a  universal.     Our  acts  constantly  refer  to  a  universal  standard 
of  action,  and  would  be  absurd  without  it.     The  barrel  of  flour  which 
we  order  at  the  shop  is  not  the  same  barrel  we  ordered  last  month,  but 
something  of  which  neither  buyer  nor  seller  has   any  immediate  ex 
perience.      "A  barrel  of  flour  "is  the  name  of  every  barrel.     What 
we  order  is  then  an  abstraction,  which  has  no  existence,  no  counterpart, 
out  of  the  mind.     In  morals  the  matter  stands  yet  worse,  for  if  man 
does  not   exist,   the  precepts  of  morals  and  humanity  are  baseless  hy 
potheses  and  mistaken  analogies.     But  if  then,  "  treating  the  subject, 
not  according  to  a  priori  fitness,  but  according  to  the  facts  of  human 
nature,  as  they  are  found  in  the  concrete  action  of  life,"  we  resign 
ourselves  to  the  view  that  our  assents  have  no  assignable  relation  to 
the  evidence,  that  we  assent  without  evidence  or  against  it,  from  an  in 
definable  instinct  which  may  be  habit  or  the  effect  of  accident,  what 
is  this  but  a  theory,  namely,  Hume's  theory  that  belief  is  an  act  of 
the  sensitive  rather  than  of  the  cogitative  part  of  our  natures?  "What 
is  left  to  us,"  says  Dr.  Newman,  "  but  to  take  things  as  they  are,  and 
to  resign  ourselves  to  what  we  find  ?    that,  is,  instead  of  devising,  what 
cannot   be,  some  sufficient  science  of  reasoning  which  may  compel 
certitude  in  concrete  conclusions,  to  confess  that  there  is  no  ultimate 
test  of  truth  besides  the  testimony  borne  to  truth  by  the  mind  itself?" 
Reasoning  and  reflection,  Hume  said,  only  weaken  our  conclusions,  by 
showing  us  that  the  evidence  on  which  we  suppose  them  to  rest  is 
inadequate,  or,  rather,  irrelevant.     The  evidence  of  direct  conscious 
ness,  that  is,  of  feeling,  owes  all  its  force  to  its  directness  and  immedi- 
ateness ;  as  soon  as  we  attempt  to  use  it  as  a  ground  of  inference  all 
its  authority  is  gone.     My  feeling  bears  with  it  unconditional  and  inde 
fectible  certitude  of  its  own  existence  at  this  moment.     To  this  extent 
it  is  the  best  possible  evidence.     But  beyond  this  it  is  no  evidence  at 
all.     It  may  happen  that  another  person  feels  as  I  do,  or  that  I  my 
self  may  have  the  same  feeling  at  another  moment,  that  is,  my  feel 
ing  may  be  not  merely  unit  and  individual,  but  also  universal.      But 


228     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     [July, 

I  cannot  know  this  from  the  feeling  itself,  for  that  gives  me  no  hint 
as  to  my  future  feelings  or  the  feelings  of  other  people.  That  I  am 
at  this  instant  hot  or  chilly,  hungry  or  vexed,  gives  me  no  reason  to 
conclude  that  another  person  is  so,  or  that  I  shall  have  the  same 
sensation  at  any  other  given  moment.  If  I  am  able  to  predict  its 
recurrence,  or  assume  its  existence  in  another,  or  to  use  it  in  any  way 
as  a  general  ground  for  reasoning,  this  is  because  it  is  not  a  mere  in 
dividual  feeling,  complete  and  ended  in  itself,  but  implies  as  its  basis 
and  condition  a  universal,  of  which  it  is  only  an  instance.  Were  it 
not  so,  any  inference  from  one  feeling  to  another  would  be  groundless, 
and  although  we  perhaps  could  not  help  making  the  inference,  yet  the 
less  said  about  it  the  better,  for  it  would  be  impossible  to  justify  it  on 
rational  grounds.  Hume's  scepticism  goes  no  further  than  this.  He 
did  not  in  the  least  seek  to  discredit  the  maxims  of  common  sense 
and  experience,  or  to  deny  moral  distinctions,  he  only  pointed  out  that 
these  generalizations  cannot  be  justified  from  experience,  since  our  ex 
perience  is  only  of  particulars.  There  is  nothing  irrational  or  absurd, 
he  thought,  in  our  assenting  to  these  abstractions  as  if  they  were  real 
ities;  for  they  are,  some  of  them,  the  foundation  of  all  our  thoughts 
and  actions,  so  that  upon  their  removal  human  nature  must  imme 
diately  perish  and  go  to  ruin.  But  they  cannot  be  supported  by  rea 
soning,  that  is,  by  legitimate  inference  from  the  data  furnished  by 
sensation.  Dr.  Newman's  result  is  substantially  the  same.  "  Acts  of 
assent,"  he  says,  "  require  previous  acts  of  inference,  but  they  require 
them  not  as  adequate  causes,  but  as  sine  qua  non  conditions/'  That  is 
to  say,  we  find  that  our  inferences  go  beyond  the  original  data,  and 
as  we  have  assumed  once  for  all  that  these  data  are  final,  unalterable, 
that  they  are  ultimate  truths,  we  are  forced  to  suppose  that  our  con 
clusions,  considered  as  results  of  reasoning,  are  untenable.  And  since 
we  cannot  bring  ourselves  to  renounce  them,  there  seems  to  be  no 
other  course  open  to  us  but  to  adhere  to  our  conclusions,  in  spite  of 
their  unreasonableness. 

Surely  this  is  a  deplorable  result  for  philosophy  to  arrive  at.  Ob 
viously  there  is  another  alternative,  namely,  to  consider  Hume's  argu 
ment  not  as  a  demonstration  of  the  frailty  of  human  reason,  but  as  a 
reductio  ad  absurdum  of  his  premises,  namely,  of  the  assumption  th&t 
Truth  is  only  a  personal  sensation.  If  it  were  indeed  true  that  our  be 
liefs  are  merely  personal,  and  that  they  are  given  to  things  and  not  to 
notions  or  ideas,  our  inability  to  establish  them  by  reasoning  would  not 
be  astonishing,  for  reason  knows  nothing  of  private  and  personal  truths, 
but  only  universal  truth.  Reasoning  is  nothing  else  but  the  removal 
from  the  present  fact  of  all  that  is  private  and  personal,  all  that  be- 


1870.]     Newman's  Essay  in  Aid  of  a  Grammar  of  Assent.     229 

longs  to  the  circumstances  under  which  it  is  observed.  In  this  process 
the  sense  of  immediate  certitude  is  necessarily  disturbed ;  the  fact  is  de 
tached  and  looked  at  as  something  independent  of  the  particular  feel 
ing  which  it  excites  in  the  mind  of  this  or  that  observer.  If  it  will 

O 

not  bear  detaching  without  losing  its  original  force,  we  have  the  choice, 
either  to  abide  by  our  private  impression  without  regarding  any  argu 
ments  that  may  be  brought  against  it,  or  to  confess  that  it  was  a  mistake. 
But  the  test  of  truth  is  to  bear  this  contradiction,  this  disturbance  of  the 
primary  certainty,  without  loss,  with  only  gain  to  the  security  of  the 
conclusion.  It  is  thus  that  our  experience  becomes  established.  Ex 
perience  does  not  mean  having  something  happen  to  us,  but  it  means 
the  winnowing  out  from  the  mass  of  casual  events  what  is  universal 
and  normal,  what  concerns  us  therefore  as  men.  Experience  in  this 
sense  means  the  progressive  refutation  and  rejection  of  that  experience 
which  is  given  by  merely  being  alive  and  awake.  The  two  are  not  the 
same,  but  contradictories  of  each  other,  yet  the  sense  of  certainty  be 
longs  to  both  alike.  No  man,  says  Dr.  Newman,  is  certain  of  a  truth 
who  can  endure  the  thought  of  its  contradictory  existing  or  occurring, 
or  whose  mind  does  not  spontaneously  and  promptly  reject  in  their 
first  suggestion,  as  idle,  as  impertinent,  as  sophistical,  any  objections 
which  are  directed  against  it.  But  it  is  to  be  observed  the  certitude 
is  the  same  when  the  object  of  it  is  a  falsehood.  What  is  distinctive 
of  the  apprehension  of  truth  is  not  the  positive  certitude,  the  mere 
exclusion  of  everything  beyond  the  present  fact,  but  the  implication 
the  inclusion,  of  the  contradictory.  The  savage  is  just  as  certain  of 
the  divinity  of  his  fetish  as  the  Christian  is  of  the  being  of  God. 
But  his  certitude  attaches  to  a  thing,  unit  and  individual,  and  not  to 
an  idea,  and  does  not  include  and  dispose  of  the  equal  claims  of  other 
things,  other  beliefs,  but  merely  denies  them.  The  object  of  Chris 
tian  worship,  on  the  other  hand,  does  not  exclude  or  characterize  as 
idle  or  impertinent  any  of  the  reverence  which  the  other  feels.  The 
Christian,  therefore,  justly  considers  his  assurance  the  more  valid,  just 
because  it  does  not  contradict,  but  welcomes  and  affirms  everything  in  the 
other's  belief  which  belongs  to  it  as  belief  and  not  merely  as  effect  of 
accidental  circumstance  and  position.  It  is  by  this  perpetual  inclusion 
of  the  contradictory  that  Truth  grows,  and  the  primary  unit  of  sensation 
becomes  universal,  valid,  and  intelligible.  The  simplest  of  our  judg 
ments,  those  implied  in  sensation,  rest  on  a  foregone  acceptance  of 
contradictories  to  yet  earlier  unremembered  judgments.  If  we  be 
lieved  our  eyes  we  should  see  all  objects  in  one  vertical  plane.  "We 
have,  as  Dr.  Newman  says,  no  immediate  discernment  of  the  individ 
ual  beings  which  surround  us,  but  only  of  certain  impressions,  and  an 


230  Bracket's  Historical  French  Grammar.  [July, 

instinctive  certitude  that  these  impressions  represent  them.  In  other 
words,  we  feel  an  immediate  certainty  that  what  we  immediately  dis 
cern  is  not  the  truth,  the  thing  itself,  but  something  from  which  we  can 
learn  what  it  is.  The  obvious  conclusion  from  this  reasoning  seems  to 
be,  not  that  our  assents  are  independent  of  inference,  but  that  our  in 
ferences  do  not  leave  their  data  where  they  found  them,  but  transform 
the  fact  started  with,  as  soon  as  the  inference  is  complete,  into  a  new 
fact,  which  so  completely  obliterates  the  old  that  the  inference  is  seem 
ingly  left  without  premises.  Vision,  for  example,  is  a  series  of  infer 
ences  so  rapidly  concluded  that  we  remain  unconscious  of  them  until 
one  happens  to  be  erroneous,  as  when  we  mistake  an  insect  close  to  the 
eye  for  a  bird  at  a  distance.  By  Inference  is  usually  meant  conscious 
Inference,  and  Inference  is  conscious  usually  only  so  long  as  it  is  incom 
plete.  But  the  position  that  Inference  is  necessarily  incomplete,  or  can 
Jead  only  to  probable  conclusions,  not  to  truth,  is  not  a  psychological 
fact,  but  merely  a  consequence  (and  a  legitimate  one)  of  the  primary 
assumption  of  the  Inductive  Philosophy,  that  all  concrete  realities  are 
particulars,  units  ;  that  each  thing  has  its  own  nature.  For  then,  our 
knowledge  of  them  is,  of  course,  piecemeal,  and  'even  supposing  it  could 
in  some  way  be  accumulated,  would  still  be  dependent  upon  the  chances 
of  contact,  and  far  short  of  truth,  or  knowledge  of  the  whole.  Holding 
the  premises  he  does,  philosophical  scepticism,  distrust  of  reason,  atad 
the  need  of  replacing  it  by  some  more  trustworthy  authority,  is  neces 
sarily  Dr.  Newman's  conclusion.  But  in  coming  to  this  conclusion  he 
is,  with  all  his  professed  disregard  of  logic,  more  logical  than  his  in 
ductive  brethren. 


6.  —  A  Historical  Grammar  of  the  French  Tongue.  By  AUGUSTS 
BRACKET.  Translated  by  G.  KITCHIN,  M.  A.  Oxford,  at  the 
Clarendbn  Press.  1869. 

i          f 

A  SLIGHT  examination  of  recent  college  catalogues  will  show  that, 
while  the  modern  languages  have  been  introduced  into  the  curriculum 
of  many  of  our  higher  institutions  of  education,  they  have  been  intro 
duced  generally  as  elementary  studies.  Their  admission  has  been  a 
double  concession,  —  on  the  one  hand  to  the  public  demand  for  practi 
cal  studies,  and  on  the  other  to  the  theory  that  the  college  ought  to 
teach  a  little  of  everything.  The  friends  of  the  classics,  whose  obliga 
tions  to  German  scholarship  are  so  great,  have  regarded  the  term  or 
two  which  they  surrendered  to  French  and  German  as  a  sort  of  sop  to 
the  public  Cerberus ;  and  the  advocates  of  a  broader  training,  feeling 
the  importance  of  introducing  these  languages  somewhere  in  our  sys- 


1870.]  Brackets  Historical  French  Grammar.  231 

tern  of  education,  have  forced  the  university  to  make  room  for  them. 
At  the  same  time  all  friends  of  severe  training  have  felt  that,  in  the 
way  in  which  they  are  usually  taught,  they  do  not  compare  as  means 
of  mental  discipline  with  the  studies  which  they  displace.  French, 
especially,  is  a  language  which  he  that  runs  may  read ;  and  it  is  not 
strange  that  wise  men  have  been  reluctant  in  consenting  to  allow  our 
best  colleges  to  do  in  this  one  department  the  work  of  the  nursery  or 
the  primary  school.  It  is  extravagant,  they  justly  say,  to  employ  the 
complicated  machinery  and  the  over-crowded  time  of  a  great  institution 
to  teach  a  young  man  at  the  age  of  twenty  what  he  would  have  learned 
with  less  friction  and  with  more  thoroughness  at  the  age  of  twelve,  if 
he  did  not  learn  it  from  his  nurse.  It  cannot  be  denied  that  it  is  an 
incongruous  system  which  makes  a  lesson  in  Fasquelle  follow  a  chorus 
in  Prometheus,  and  sets  a  man  who  has  been  solving  problems  in  the 
Calculus  at  work  with  grammar -and  dictionary  over  a  page  of  Tele"- 
maque.  But  the  remedy  lies  not  in  excluding  from  the  college  course 
these  languages,  whose  only  fault  is  that  they  are  so  easy,  but  in  im 
proving  our  methods  of  teaching  them.  The  tedious  drill  in  grammati 
cal  forms  and  in  the  first  principles  of  syntax,  which  is  so  intolerably 
irksome  to  both  teacher  and  scholar  at  the  university  stage,  should  be 
left,  as  it  is  left  in  the  classical  languages  and  in  English,  to  the  pre 
paratory  schools.  At  college  the  student  should  learn  that  the  litera 
tures  to  which  he  has  thus  been  introduced  contain  something  more 
substantial  than  simple  stories  and  light  comedies,  and  that  the  gram 
mar  which  has  teased  him  with  its  blind  rules  and  its  frequent  excep 
tions  is  not  a  mere  bundle  of  tangled  and  irrational  idioms.  At  this 
stage  of  his  progress  he  should  be  made  acquainted  with  the  treasures 
of  history,  biography,  philosophy,  poetry,  and  eloquence,  for  the  sake 
of  which  only  the  languages  are  worth  learning,  by  means  of  inspiring 
lectures  and  a  critical  study  of  authors  and  of  epochs.  Such  study  is 
beyond  the  mental  reach  of  school-boys  ;  but  it  is  fit  work,  and  it  may 
be  made  fascinating  work,  for  the  college  class-room. 

There  is  another  way,  also,  in  which  the  modern  languages  may  be 
made  to  do  equally  .good  service  in  the  cause  of  mental  discipline,  and 
in  which  the  Romanic  languages  have  perhaps  the  advantage  over  those 
of  the  Germanic  family,  —  namely,  by  a  method  of  study  which  shall 
trace  their  history  and  exhibit  the  principles  of  their  growth.  The 
comparative  grammar  of  these  languages,  which  is  not  older  than  the 
distinguished  German  scholar,  Diez,  who  is  still  lecturing  to  a  handful 
of  students  at  Bonn,  but  which  has  already  attained  the  proportions  of 
a  science,  ought  to  be  taught  and  must  soon  be  taught  in  every  col 
lege  into  which  the  French  language  is  admitted.  Its  outlines  are  so 


232  Bracket's  Historical  French  Grammar.  [July, 

sharply  defined,  its  rules  so  few  and  so  clear,  its  results  so  curious  and 
yet  so  sure,  that  it  cannot  justly  be  excluded  from  a  course  of  study 
in  which  language  has  a  place.  The  day  is  coming  when  a  knowledge 
of  its  principles  and  the  ability  to  apply  them  will  distinguish  that  ac 
quaintance  with  French,  which  forms  a  part  of  the  capital  of  an  edu 
cated  man,  from  that  which  has  been  picked  up  in  boarding-schools  or 
in  a  year  on  the  Continent ;  when  no  one  can  claim  to  have  mastered  the 
language  whose  studies  do  not  enable  him  to  follow  back  the  words 
of  Moliere  and  Clement  Marot,  through  their  older  forms  in  the  oaths 
of  Strasburg  and  the  rondelets  of  the  trouveres,  to  Petronius,  whose 
style  with  this  clew  becomes  easy,  and  further  still  to  the  Augustine 
poets.  And  we  are  confident  that  a  brief  experiment  of  this  course  of 
study,  judiciously  conducted,  would  show  that  it  may  be  made  as  enter 
taining  as  it  certainly  would  be  instructive ;  when  once  a  student 
has  mastered  its  principles  he  can  go  on  etymologizing  to  almost  any 
extent. 

We  have  been  led  to  make  these  remarks  by  the  appearance  of  the 
best  handbook  of  this  science  which  we  have  yet  met  with,  and  which 
will  in  a  measure  supply  a  want  that  all  teachers  of  French,  who  are  at 
the  same  time  scholars,  must  have  felt.  It  is  a  translation,  in  a  neat 
little  volume  of  two  hundred  pages,  of  the  Grammaire  Historique 
Francaise  of  M.  Auguste  Brachet.  Its  author  is  probably  little 
known  in  this  country,  though  this  is  not  his  first  publication.  He 
belongs  to  the  small  circle  of  young  French  scholars  —  in  which  the 
names  of  Michel  Breal,  Paul  Meyer,  and  Gaston  Paris  have  won  dis 
tinction  abroad  as  well  as  at  home  —  who  are  laboring  to  introduce 
among  their  own  countrymen  the  historical  method  of  grammatical 
study  which  has  accomplished  such  brilliant  results  in  Germany.  He 
first  appeared  before  the  public  as  the  author  of  an  Etude  sur  Bru- 
neau  de  Tours,  a  trouvere  of  the  thirteenth  century,  and  afterward  of 
an  essay  on  the  "  Office  of  Atonic  Vowels  in  the  Romanic  Languages," 
both  of  which  were  warmly  praised  in  the  Revue  Critique,  the  organ  of 
the  group  of  scholars  to  which  we  have  referred.  More  recently  he 
has  issued  a  brief  Dictionnaire  des  Doublets  de  la  Langue  francaise,  and 
by  virtue  of  these  modest  but  valuable  contributions  to  modern  phi 
lology  he  has  been  chosen  one  of  the  editors  of  the  JRevue,  and  he  is 
now  engaged,  in  connection  with  M.  Gaston  Paris,  upon  a  French 
translation  of  the  Comparative  Grammar  of  Diez.  His  position  is 
thus  a  sufficient  guaranty  both  of  the  scientific  method  and  the  gen 
eral  accuracy  of  this  popular  manual,  in  which  he  aims  to  bring  the 
main  facts  and  the  general  principles  of  French  etymology  before  a 
larger  number  of  students  than  those  who  listen  to  M.  Paris  at  the 


1870.]  Bracket's  Historical  French  Grammar.  233 

College  of  France,  or  read  the  scholarly  essays  of  M.  Littre*.  In  the 
present  translation,  which  has  had  the  benefit  of  Professor  Max  Miil- 
ler's  revision,  the  book  is  equally  deserving  of  the  careful  attention  of 
English  and  American  students ;  and  we  may  say  to  teachers  of  French 
in  this  country,  what  has  been  said  by  an  able  French  critic,  that,  "  thanks 
to  M.  Brachet,  the  first  principles  of  true  French  grammar  can  no 
longer  be  ignored,  and  we  shall  have  a  right  to  demand  of  all  persons 
who  presume  to  talk  about  the  French  language  that  they  at  least 
know  this  little  volume  by  heart." 

The  work  is  divided  into  three  books,  which  treat  of  (1)  Phonet 
ics,  or  the  study  of  letters,  (2)  Inflection,  or  the  study  of  grammatical 
forms,  and  (3)  the  formation  of  words.  An  introduction  of  thirty-eight 
pages  comprises  a  clear  thotfgh  somewhat  discursive  sketch  of  the 
history  of  the  language,  in  which  the  important  distinction  is  made 
between  Low  Latin,  or  the  barbarous  imitation  of  the  classical  idiom 
in  use  among  public  personages,  from  the  Merovingian  invasion  to 
the  time  of  Francis  I.,  and  Vulgar  Latin,  the  idiom  spoken  by  the  peo 
ple  under  the  Roman  emperors,  and  the  parent  of  modern  French. 
The  author  then  traces  rapidly  the  history,  and  points  out  the  mutual 
relations  of  the  different  dialects,  and  touches  on  some  of  the  prin 
cipal  influences  which  have  slowly  changed  the  structure  of  the  lan 
guage  from  synthetic  to  analytic,  and  the  violent  attempts  which  have 
been  made  at  different  times,  as,  for  example,  by  the  Pleiad,  to  mod 
ify  its  character.  In  the  second  section  of  the  introduction  he  states 
and  illustrates  three  great  laws  of  French  derivation :  (1)  the  contin 
uance  of  the  Latin  accent,  by  which  we  are  able  to  distinguish  words 
of  ancient  and  popular  formation,  like  porche,  from  words  more  re 
cently  coined  by  the  learned,  like  portique,  from  the  Latin  porticus  ; 
(2)  the  suppression  of  a  short  vowel,  in  the  syllable  preceding  the  ac 
cent,  as  bonte,  from  bon(i)tatem,  and  (3)  the  loss  of  a  consonant  be 
tween  two  vowels,  as  in  Her  from  li(g}are. 

The  subject  of  phonetics,  which  lies  at  the  foundation  of  the  whole 
study,  but  which  is  generally  made  unnecessarily  perplexing  and  dry, 
is  treated  in  Book  I.  with  great  clearness  and  brevity,  under  the  heads 
of  (1)  the  Permutations  of  letters,  (2)  Transposition,  addition,  and  sub 
traction,  (3)  Prosody.  Why  the  first  two  of  these  divisions  should 
not  have  been  united  in  one  does  not  appear  to  us.  Permutation  in 
cludes  transposition,  and  by  combining  the  two  the  author  would  have 
obtained  the  not  inconsiderable  advantage  of  presenting  the  history  of 
each  letter  at  a  single  view,  instead  of  dividing  it  among  a  number  of 
sections  on  as  many  different  pages.  He  has,  however,  wisely  followed 
the  example  of  Diez  in  tracing  separately  the  history  of  each  letter  of 


234  Bracket's  Historical  French  Grammar.  [July, 

the  French  alphabet  back  to  the  Latin  letters  from  which  it  arises,  and 
of  each  Latin  letter  down  to  the  French  letters  into  which  it  has  been 
changed.  But  he  gives  no  reason  for  reversing  the  order  which  the 
German  grammarian  observed,  and  which  certainly  appears  the  natural 
one,  and  for  placing  the  history  of  the  Latin  letters  after  instead  of  before 
that  of  the  French  letters.  Some  omissions  in  this  portion  of  the  work 
are  the  more  noticeable  on  account  of  its  general  excellence.  Thus, 
for  instance,  the  author  has  overlooked  the  nasal  vowels  and  the  vowel 
y.  He « has  also  omitted  to  notice  and  account  for  the  difference  of 
quantity  in,  e,  e,  and  e,  a  and  a,  o  and  o,  and  has  given  only  a  partial  ex 
planation  —  and  that  not  in  its  proper  place  —  of  the  origin  of  these  ac 
cents.  If  we  were  disposed  to  find  fault,  we  should  object  also  to  the 
too  absolute  manner  in  which  rules  are  laid  down  which  admit  of  nu 
merous  and  important  exceptions ;  it  must  be  remembered,  however, 
that  his  work  is  one  of  introduction  and  popularization,  and  that  it 
would  have  been  impossible  to  attain  strict  accuracy  without  a  loss  of 
that  simplicity  and  clearness  which  are  striking  characteristics  of  this 
part  of  the  volume. 

In  Book  II.  Part  I.  treats  of  the  Declension  (1)  of  the  Substantive, 
under  which  are  discussed  case,  number,  and  gender,  (2)  the  Article, 
(3)  the  Adjective,  (4)  the  Pronoun.  The  processes  by  which  the  six 
cases  of  the  Latin  noun  have  been  reduced,  first  to  two  and  then  to 
one,  and  by  which  the  sibilant,  which  marked  a  single  case  of  one 
number  in  Latin,  has  come  to  be  the  plural  sign  for  almost  all  nouns 
and  adjectives  in  French,  are  plainly  stated  and  well  illustrated,  though 
with  some  repetition  in  what  concerns  number.  In  treating  of  Gender 
the  author  has  fallen  into  the  common  error  of  speaking  of  the  en 
tire  absence  of  the  neuter  in  French,  whereas  in  two  pronouns,  ce  and 
guoi,  it  still  exists. 

The  pages  on  the  verb,  which  are,  on  the  whole,  admirable,  are  not 
altogether  free  from  errors,  and  do  not  set  in  its  final  form  the  compli 
cated  subject  of  conjugation.  Thus  it  would  not  be  strange  if  some 
confusion  should  arise  in  the  mind  of  the  student  from  the  double  divis 
ion  into  irregular  and  anomalous  of  the  verbs  which  do  not  readily  fall 
within  the  three  conjugations.  The  former  epithet  especially  should 
not  be  applied  in  a  scientific  grammar  to  verbs  which  are  regular  in 
their  inflection,  but  which  have  a  strong  form  in  the  perfect.  There 
is,  too,  in  this  division  a  singular  contradiction  between  two  statements 
in  regard  to  the  formation  of  the  conditional.  On  page  139  we  read, 
"•The  future  and  conditional  are  compound  tenses,  made  up  of  the 
infinitive  of  the  verb  and  the  auxiliary  avoir  (aimer-ai,  aimer-ais}" 
But  on  page  120  it  is  stated  that  "  the  French  language  has  created 


1870.]  Bracket's  Historical  French  Grammar.  235 

the  conditional  under  the  form  of  the  infinitive,  which  indicates  the 
future,  and  a  termination  which  indicates  the  past";  and  the  author 
adds  in  a  note  "  -ais,  -ais,  -ait,  -ions,  -iez,  -aient,  represent  the  Latin 
-abam,  -abas,  -abat,  etc."  Here  of  course  the  first'  statement  is  the 
correct  one ;  aimerais  is  from  amare  habebam  as  aimerai  from  amare 
habeo. 

Part  III.  of  this  book  is  occupied  with  a  list  of  the  principal  Parti 
cles,  such  as  adverbs,  prepositions,  conjunctions,  and  interjections,  with 
the  derivation  of  each.  We  notice  here  the  statement  that  the  adverbs 
of  affirmation  and  negation  are  six  in  number,  while  only  four  are  men 
tioned. 

Book  III.  on  the  formation  of  words  contains,  under  the  heads  of 
Composition  and  Derivation,  a  summary  of  the  most  common  methods 
of  word-formation  and  lists  of  the  principal  prefixes  and  suffixes.  An 
Appendix  on  the  rules  to  be  observed  in  testing  derivation  closes  the 
volume. 

It  will  be  seen  from  this  sketch  of  M.  Brachet's  work,  that,  though 
it  is  not  in  all  respects  what  such  a  book  should  be,  its  plan  is  excellent, 
and  its  execution,  on  the  whole,  free  from  serious  errors,  while  it  fills  a 
gap  in  the  study  of  the  French  language  of  which  the  authors  of  the 
grammars  in  general  use  seem  to  have  been  unaware.  Its  utility  is  im 
paired  by  two  important  defects,  —  the  absence  of  all  reference,  except 
in  the  introduction,  to  the  other  sources  besides  the  Latin,  especially  to 
the  Germanic  languages,  from  which  the  French  vocabulary  has  derived 
very  many  of  its  most  common  and  useful  words;  and  the  entire  omission 
of  the  subject  of  syntax,  in  which  the  practical  results  of  the  historic 
method  are  most  palpable.  One  gets  from  an  examination  of  the  work, 
also,  the  impression  that  the  author  regarded  it  as  an  experiment,  and 
that  he  has  not  always  judged  wisely  when  to  enter  into  details  and 
when  to  restrict  himself  to  general  statements.  Its  great  merit  is  that  it 
presents  a  remarkably  clear  exhibition  of  a  novel  and  complex  subject. 
That  the  want  which  it  is  designed  to  meet  has  begun  to  be  felt  is 
sufficiently  shown  by  the  publication  of  the  Palaestra  Gattica  of  Pro 
fessor  Meissner,  of -Belfast,  the  only  other  book  which  we  have  met 
with  in  English,  covering  the  same  ground.  But  though  much  more 
thorough  in  its  treatment  of  some  branches  of  the  subject,  such  as,  for 
instance,  the  dialects  and  word  formation,  the  latter  work  is  so  defi 
cient  in  clearness  of  arrangement  and  often  of  statement,  that  without 
the  lectures  of  its  author,  which  it  was  intended  to  accompany,  it  does 
not  seem  to  us  likely  to  be  of  much  service  to  a  beginner. 


236     Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    [July, 

7.  —  The  Acts  and  Resolves,  Public  and  Private,  of  the  Province  of 
the  Massachusetts  Bay,  to  which  are  Prefixed  the  Charters  of  the 
Province,  with  Historical  and  Explanatory  Notes  and  an  Appendix. 
Published  under  Chapter  87  of  the  Resolves  of  the  General  Court  of 
the  Commonwealth  for  the  Year  1867.  Vol.  I.  Boston:  Wright 
and  Potter.  1869.  8vo.  pp.  xxix,  904. 

IN  the  year  1639,  nine  years  after  the  setting  up  of  the  framework 
of  Massachusetts,  there  was  heard  a  muttering  about  the  insecurity  of 
living  under  a  government  not  administered  according  to  written  and 
known  rules.  "  The  people  had  long  desired  a  body  of  laws,  and 
thought  their  condition  very  unsafe  while 'so  much  power  rested  in  the 
discretion  of  Magistrates."  One  would  say  that  this  was  not  unwise, 
but  the  wisdom  of  Winthrop  and  some  of  his  colleagues  concluded 
otherwise.  "  Two  great  reasons  there  were  which  caused  most  of  the 
Magistrates  and  some  of  the  elders  not  to  be  very  forward  in  this 
matter.  One  was,  want  of  sufficient  experience  of  the  nature  and  dis 
position  of  the  people,  considered  with  the  condition  of  the  country  and 
other  circumstances,  which  made  them  conceive  that  such  laws  would 
be  fittest  for  us  which  should  arise  pro  re  nata  upon  occasions,  etc. 
And  so  the  laws  of  England  and  other  States  grew,  and  therefore  the 
fundamental  laws  of  England  are  called  customs,  consuetudines.  2.  For 
that  it  would  professedly  transgress  the  limits  of  our  charter,  which 
provides  we  shall  make  no  laws  repugnant  to  the  laws  of  England  ;  and 
that  we  were  assured  we  must  do.  But  to  raise  up  laws  by  practice 
and  custom  had  been  no  transgression;  as  in  our  church  discipline, 
and  in  matters  of  marriage,  to  make  a  law  that  marriages  should  not  be 
solemnized  by  ministers  is  repugnant  to  the  laws  of  England,  but  to 
bring  it  to  a  custom  by  practice  for  the  Magistrates  to  perform  it,  is  no 
law  made  repugnant,  etc."  *  So  the  Magistrates,  avoiding  as  far  as 
might  be  an  invidious  attitude  of  opposition,  put  in  action  their  familiar 
policy  of  embarrassment  and  delay. 

John  Cotton,  from  a  Committee  raised  by  the  General  Court  "  to 
make  a  draft  of  laws  agreeable  to  the  Word  of  God,  which  might  be 
the  fundamentals  of  this  Commonwealth "  tried  his  ready  hand  at  the 
agitated  moment  of  the  Pequot  war  and  the  Antinomian  controversy 
and  "  did  present  a  copy  of  Moses  his  judicials,  compiled  in  an  exact 
method."  This  code  was  obviously  so  far  from  being  what  was  wanted, 
as  to  afford  an  easy  opportunity  for  giving  the  whole  thing  the  go-by 
for  the  time. 

After  two  years  more  the  General  Court  "  ordered  that  the  freemen 

*  Winthrop,  History  of  New  England,  Vol.  I.  pp.  322,  323. 


1870.]    Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    237 

of  every  town,  or  some  part  thereof  chosen  by  the  rest,  shall  assemble 
together  in  their  several  towns,  and  collect  the  heads  of  such  necessary 
and  fundamental  laws  as  may  be  suitable  to  the  times  and  places  where 
God  by  his  providence  hath  cast  us,  and  the  heads  of  such  laws  to 
deliver  in  writing  to  the  Governor  for  the  time  being,"  to  be  "  pre 
sented  to  the  General  Court  for  confirmation  or  rejection  as  the  court 
shall  adjudge."  *  This  scheme,  too,  came  to  nothing,  and  others  like 
it. 

To  make  a  long  story  short,  the  undertaking  was  baffled  till  the 
course  of  time  and  events  had  broken  the  force  of  the  objections  which 
had  lain  against  it.  On  the  one  hand,  in  the  experience  of  a  few  years 
the  characteristics  of  a  useful  jurisprudence  had  disclosed  themselves, 
and  on  the  other,  the  English  Parliament  was  crowding  hard  upon  the 
King,  and  in  consequence  the  fear  of  impending  interference  from  Eng 
land  was  dying  out  in  Massachusetts.  In  1641  the  cautious  guides 
of  public  action  had  become  disposed  to  gratify  the  popular  wish  for 
a  legal  code.  The  General  Court  committed  the  business  to  the  Gov 
ernor, —  Bellingham,  a  learned  lawyer, — and  in  December  of  that  year 
the  Court,  with  unanimous  consent,  "  established  the  hundred  Jaws 
which  were  called  The  Body  of  Liberties" t  This  code,  the  basis  of 
the  Statute  Law  of  Massachusetts,  and  indeed  of  all  New  England, 
was  drawn  up  by  Nathaniel  Ward,  author  of  the  very  witty,  and  once 
very  famous  book,  the  "  Simple  Cobbler  of  Agawam."  J  He  was  now 
minister  of  Ipswich,  but  had  in  England  been  "  a  student  and  prac- 
ticer  in  the  courts  of  the  common  law." 

The  Body  of  Liberties  was,  on  the  one  hand,  the  proper  foundation, 
and,  on  the  other,  the  beginning  of  a  superstructure,  of  the  full  system 
of  legal  provisions  which  was  desired.  In  the  fifth  year  after  its 
adoption,  Bellingham  and  Ward  were  authorized  to  prepare  a  volume 
of  Statutes,  which  was  accordingly  published  in  1648.  The  General 
Court  had  "  found  by  experience  the  great  benefit  that  doth  redound 
to  the  country  by  putting  of  the  law  in  print."  §  There  were  two  more 
publications  of  the  Statutes  in  the  time  of  the  old  charter,  namely,  in 
1658  and  in  1672,  j|  in  which  latter  year  also  Plymouth  printed  its 
code. 

After  the  vacating  of  the  colonial  charter  by  a  decree  of  the  Lord 
Chancellor  in  1684,  came  the  lawless  government  of  the  Council,  with 
Joseph  Dudley  for  its  President ;  then  the  despotism  of  Sir  Edmund 
Andros ;  then  the  provisional  administration,  with  Bradstreet  at  its 

*  Palfrey,  History  of  New  England,  Vol.  II.  p.  22,  note  3. 

t  Winthrop,  History,  Vol.  II.  p.  55.  §  Palfrey,  Vol.  IT.  p.  260. 

|  Ibid.  ||  Ibid.,  p.  394,  Vol.  III.  p.  40. 


238     Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    [July, 

head;  and  lastly,  the  provincial  charter  of  "William  and  Mary  in  1692, 
from  which  was  taken  a  new  departure  on  the  voyage  that  was  to 
terminate  at  Lexington  and  Bunker  Hill.  Of  the  Statutes  of  the 
Province  of  Massachusetts,  that  is,  of  the  laws  enacted  between  the 
Revolution  of  1C89  and  the  Revolution  of  1775,  eight  collections  were 
published,  besides  the  publications  of  laws  of  single  courts  ;  namely,  in 
1699,  1714,  1724,  1727,  1742,  1755,  1761,  and  1763.  There  would 
have  been  another  in  1773,  but  Governor  Hutchinson  arrested  the 
action  of  the  General  Court  to  that  effect.  In  1729  there  was  also 
published  a  volume  exhibiting  the  series  of  past  legislative  proceedings 
bearing  on  the  controversy  still  pending  at  that  time,  about  the  grant 
ing  of  stated  salaries  to  the  governor,  lieutenant-governor,  and  judges. 

Five  years  ago  the  Legislature  of  the  Commonwealth  authorized  the 
appointment  by  the  governor  of  three  or  more  commissioners  "  learned 
in  the  law  and  in  the  history  of  Massachusetts  to  prepare  for  publica 
tion  a  complete  copy  of  the  Statutes  and  Laws  of  the  Province  and 
State  of  Massachusetts  Bay  from  the  time  of  the  Province  charter 
to  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution  of  the  Commonwealth";  a  work 
which  was  diligently  executed  by  those  eminent  lawyers,  Ex-Governor 
Clifford,  Mr.  Ellis  Ames,  of  Canton,  and  Mr.  Abner  C.  Goodell,  of 
Salem.  This  preliminary  work  being  done,  the  General  Court,  three 
years  ago,  authorized  the  printing  and  publication  of  the  series  of 
Provincial  Statutes,  of  which  accordingly  the  first  volume  is  now  before 
us,  covering  the  period  between  the  charter  of  William  and  Mary  and 
the  death  of  Anne  (1692-1714). 

The  book  has  been  edited  by  Mr.  Ames  and  Mr.  Goodell,  with  the 
skill  and  diligence  promised  by  the  reputation  of  those  distinguished 
jurists.  It  contains  all  the  public  acts  known  to  have  been  passed 
within  the  period,  except  four  which  have  not  yet  been  found,  but 
which  are  known  to  have  related  only  to  grants  of  pay  to  the 
Governor  and  the  county  commissioners  and  to  assessments  of  taxes. 
It  is  furnished  with  a  complete  apparatus  for  the  facilitating  of  refer 
ence  ;  with  an  elaborate  index  of  subjects,  with  a  table  of  names  of 
persons  and  places,  and  with  lists  of  the  titles  of  public  acts,  private 
acts,  joint  resolves  and  orders,  and  separate  resolves  of  each  branch  of 
the  legislature.  It  presents  the  marginal  notes  of  the  old  impressions,  as 
a  sort  of  nearly  contemporaneous  commentary  by  competent  persons,  and 
thus,  "  nearly  of  equal  authority  with  the  laws  themselves."  Against 
each  act  subsequently  referred  to  in  any  reported  decision  of  the 
Supreme  Court  it  inserts  a  memorandum  to  that  effect;  and  against 
each  act  disallowed  by  the  English  government  by  virtue  of  a  clause 
in  the  new  charter,  the  fact,  the  date,  and  generally  the  alleged  reasons 


1870.]    Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    239 

of  such  disallowance  are  recorded.  Finally,  the  record  of  the  acts  of 
each  General  Court  is  followed  by  notes  relating  to  their  history  and 
policy,  the  objections  made  against  them,  whether  here  or  in  England, 
and  the  manner  in  which  they  were  affected  by  later  legislation,  the 
materials  for  these  comments  being  largely  drawn  from  the  journals 
and  files  of  the  English  Privy  Council  and  of  its  Committee  for  Trade 
and  Plantations. 

Nothing  need  be  said  to  show  how  great  is  the  interest  of  this  work 
alike  for  the  general  student  of  history  and  for  the  professional  jurist. 
To  the  former  it  is  especially  attractive  from  its  relation  to  that  so 
cial  revolution  which  was  brought  about  in  Massachusetts  by  the  sub 
stitution  of  the  provincial  charter  for  the  primitive  charter  of  King 
Charles  the  First.  Our  attention  is  arrested  on  the  opening  of  the 
book,  where,  on  the  first  page,  instead  of  the  plain  old  phrase,  redolent 
of  the  corporation  origin,  "  it  is  ordered,"  or  "  the  Court  does  order,"  we 
have  an  enacting  clause  in  the  adopted  form,  "  Be  it  ordered  and 
enacted  by  the  Governor,  Council,  and  Representatives  convened  in 
General  Assembly,  and  it  is  hereby  ordered  and  enacted  by  the 
authority  of  the  same."  We  are  apt  to  speak  in  a  loose  way  of 
the  franchise  of  citizens  of  the  colony  of  Massachusetts.  The  fact 
is,  that  whoever  possessed  and  used  the  franchise,  whoever  voted,  in 
colonial  times,  did  so  by  virtue  of  his  having  been  admitted  to  be  a 
member  of  the  corporation  created  by  King  Charles's  charter  under 
the  style  and  title  of  "The  Governor  and  Company  of  the  Massa 
chusetts  Bay  in  New  England."  That  Corporation  had,  it  is  true, 
since  1643,  transacted  its  business  by  means  of  a  legislative  depart 
ment,  consisting  of  two  branches.  But  only  one  branch  —  the  Magis 
trates  or  Council  —  had  been  expressly  created  by  the  charter,  which 
provided  that  it  should  be  elected  by  the  body  of  freemen,  who  were 
also  to  exercise  other  powers  when  assembled  in  their  General  Court. 
The  other  branch  was  created  by  a  straining,  at  all  events,  —  if  we 
will  not  say  by  a  fiction,  —  of  law.  The  freemen,  having  become 
numerous,  and  being  so  scattered  among  dangerous  Indian  neighbors 
that  it  was  inconvenient  for  them  to  come  often  together,  said  that  it 
was  not  unreasonable,  and  would  do  no  harm  to  anybody,  for  them  to 
exercise  by  proxy  —  that  is,  by  elected  agents  —  some  of  the  powers 
vested  in  them  by  the  charter,  and  other  powers  made  necessary  by 
what  had  come  to  be  their  situation,  instead  of  all  travelling  down  to  Bos 
ton,  and  leaving  their  families  unprotected,  and  their  fields  unploughed  ; 
and  hence  arose  the  House  of  Deputies  in  its  rudimentary  state.  The 
later  charter  given  by  the  elected  Dutch  King  of  England  knew 
nothing  of  any  "  Governor  and  Company  of  the  Massachusetts  Bay." 


240     Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay .    [July, 

Henceforward  the  dwellers  in  this  country  were  "  our  good  subjects 
the  inhabitants  of  our  province  or  territory  of  the  Massachusetts  Bay," 
and  the  freemen,  or  voters,  were  as  many  of  those  good  subjects  as 
possessed  a  freehold  to  the  value  of  forty  shillings  per  annum,  or  other 
estate  to  the  value  of  forty  pounds  sterling.  They  could  no  longer 
choose  a  Governor,  Lieutenant-Governor,  and  Secretary,  as  the  free 
men  of  the  Corporation  had  done.  The  King  was  henceforward  to 
provide  them  with  these  officers.  They  had  no  longer  an  unrestricted 
choice  of  a  Council.  Their  Deputies,  with  the  last  year's  Council, 
nominated  Counsellors  from  year  to  year,  but  the  King's  Governor 
might,  if  he  pleased,  say  that  he  would  have  none  of  them.  They 
could  not,  by  their  Representatives,  appoint  Judges  as  of  old  ;  Judges 
were  to  be  nominated  by  the  Governor,  subject  to  a  negative  by  the 
Council.  They  were  not  free  to  legislate  by  functionaries  empowered 
by  themselves.  The  lower  House  continued  to  represent  them  as  of 
old.  But  not  as  of  old,  any  action  of  the  House,  to  be  effective,  must 
now  get  the  favor  first  of  a  Council  not  absolutely  of  their  own  mak 
ing  ;  secondly,  of  the  King's  Governor,  whose  veto  was  conclusive  ; 
and  lastly,  of  the  King's  Privy  Council,  who,  by  virtue  of  a  clause  in 
the  new  charter,  might  repeal  and  annul  any  law  of  Massachusetts  at 
any  time  within  three  years  from  its  passing. 

It  is  a  study  to  observe  the  attempts  of  the  local  leaders  to  keep, 
under  the  new  charter,  as  much  as  might  be  of  the  liberty  and  self- 
government  enjoyed  under  the  old.  The  imported  King  of  England, 
perhaps  not  the  less  because  royal  prerogative  was  a  new  luxury  to 
him,  loved  prerogative  not  much  less  than  his  unlucky  father-in- 
law,  and  any  Calvinistic  enthusiasm  on  his  part  which  his  subjects  m 
New  England  may  have  supposed  would  bring  him  and  them  into 
sympathy,  they  soon  found  they  had  counted  on  too  sangu'^ly.  H" 
first  Governor,  Sir  William  Phipps,  was  well  known  to  '•>•  Massa 
chusetts  patriots,  among  whom  he  was  born  and  lived,  a  a  thick 
headed  person,  and  on  that  knowledge  they  may  have  founded  some 
flattering  hopes.  But  the  surly  and  business-burdened  king  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  dull  and  well-disposed  Governor  on  the  other,  were  not 
the  only  potential  parties  they  had  to  deal  with.  The  English  Board 
of  Trade  was  jealous  by  constitution  and  habit.  The  crown  lawyers, 
Sawyer  and  Treby,  had  been  mixed  up  in  the  old  colonial  controversy, 
and  had  its  story  by  heart,  from  title  to  colophon.  The  Attorney- 
General  was  watching  them  like  a  lynx.  There  were  not  wanting 
witty  people  in  Massachusetts  in  those  days,  but  they  needed  to  be 
wittier  than  they  were,  if  they  would  outwit  John  Somers.  He  was 
in  no  hurry  about  setting  right  their  disagreeable  legislation.  He  knew 


1870.]    Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    241 

better  than  that.     They  had  accepted  the  new  charter  with  reluctance 
and  misgivings.     Many  of  them  had  taken  it  as  simply  unavoidable, 
and  yielded  to  it  with  much  indignation  and  discontent.     It  was  not 
worth  while  to  contradict  and  disappoint  them  while  they  were  in  such 
a  sore  mood.     The  influence  of  time  and  habit  is  soothing,  and  after 
a  little  while  they  would  be  more  tractable  and  patient,  while  on  the 
other  hand  no  great  advantage  would  be  lost  on  the  King's  part  by  a 
little  delay,  and  something  material  would  even  be  gained  by  having  it 
seen  that  if  he   procrastinated  he  did  not  forget,  and  that  his  long 
silence  was  not  to  be  construed  as  giving  consent.     So  not  until  near 
ly  the  end  of  the  three  prescribed  years  of  the  King's  privilege  in 
respect  to  legislation  in  Massachusetts   did  the  disallowances  of  his 
Privy   Council  begin  to  come  over.     The  first   Governor  under  the 
new  charter  arrived  in  Boston  from  England,  where,  with  President 
Mather,  he  had  been  treating  about  it,  in  May,  1692.     The  newly  con 
stituted  legislature  came  together  in  the  following  month.     Its  first  en 
actment  was  "that  all  the  local  laws  respectively  ordered  and  made 
by  the  late  Governor  and  Company  of  the  Massachusetts  Bay  and  the 
late  government  of  New  Plymouth,  being  not  repugnant  to  the  laws 
of  England,  nor  inconsistent  with  the  present  constitution  and  settle 
ment  by  their  Majesties'  royal  charter,  do  remain  and  continue  in  full 
force  in  the  respective  places  for  which  they  were  made  and  used, 
until  the  tenth  of  November  next."     When  November  came  the  pro 
vision  was  indefinitely  extended  as  to  time.     Both  enactments   were 
duly  certified  to  England,  and  the  Province  rejoiced  in  the  quiet  of.its 
ancient  administration,  and  looked  for  that  completion  of  three  years 
'  which  would  confirm  it  past  recall.     But  the  Privy  Council  counted 
the  months  as  attentively  as  they,  and  just  before  the  three  years  were 
-ut  (A>    -1st,  1695)  it  broke  its  delusive  silence.     "How  is  this,  gen- 
tlemer  <     ihe  General  Assembly  of  Massachusetts  ?  "  said  the  King's 
managfc  ^ ;  "  you  legislate  compendiously.    Have  the  goodness  to  inform 
us  with  '  express  and  particular  specification '  what  were  '  ail  the  local 
laws,'  established  during  seventy  years,  which  you  have  been  re-enact 
ing  in  a  single  sentence,  and  we  will  let  you  know  what  the  King  will 
do  about  it.     Meanwhile  your  re-enactment  is  disallowed,  and  of  no 
effect,  and  you  must  begin  again." 

So  the  unjust  Navigation  Laws  of  England  were  extremely  hurtful 
to  Massachusetts,  and  how  to  escape  or  relieve  their  operation  in  the 
Province  was  a  standing  problem.  The  government  at  home  was  ex 
cessively  tenacious  of  them.  The  Board  of  Trade  had  scarcely  an 
eye  for  anything  else.  Day  by  day  the  Royal  Exchange  was  noisy 
with  stories  of  their  evasion  by  the  cunning  traffickers  of  New 
England.  Decorum  and  prudence  alike  required  of  the  newly  con- 

VOL.  CXI.  —  NO.  228.  16 


242     Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    [July, 

stituted  government  of  the  Province  to  look  to  this  important  matter, 
and  the  way  they  took  was,  in  their  first  session,  to  pass  an  "Act  for  the 
erecting  of  a  Naval  Office."  The  object  of  this  law,  as  set  forth  in 
the  Preamble,  was,  "  the  due  and  more  effectual  observation  of  said 
Act  of  Parliament,  and  that  all  undue  trading,  contrary  to  the  said 
Act,  may  be  prevented  in  this  their  Majesties'  Province  of  the  Massa 
chusetts  Bay,"  and  the  method  was  to  appoint  nine  revenue  officers  in 
the  Province  for  so  many  different  ports.  The  King's  Privy  Council 
did  not  see  this  adaptation  of  means  to  ends  in  the  same  light  as  it  was 
viewed  here,  and  the  law  was  set  aside  on  the  ground  that  the  func 
tions  assigned  by  it  to  collectors  of  local  appointment,  were,  "  by  divers 
Acts  of  Parliament,  reserved  to  such  officer  or  officers  as  shall  be 
appointed  by  the  Commissioners  of  his  Majesty's  customs."  Of  the 
ten  acts  passed  at  this  session  the  last  related  to  Harvard  College. 
With  the  annulling  of  the  charter  of  the  "  Governor  and  Company  of 
Massachusetts  Bay,"  it  was  held  that  the  corporations  that  had  been 
created  by  it  —  that  of  the  college  among  the  rest  —  had  fallen  (vitulus 
in  matris  venire  mortuus).  Dr.  Increase  Mather,  the  Governor's  pas 
tor,  and  joint  negotiator  of  the  Provincial  Charter,  got  an  Act  passed 
creating  a  governing  corporation  for  the  College  to  consist,  in  the  first 
instance,  of  himself  as  President,  and  a  Treasurer,  and  eight  Fellows 
(mostly  his  friends),  with  perpetual  succession  by  its  own  election,  and 
dispensed  from  the  former  responsibility  to  a  Board  of  Overseers.  The 
King's  advisers  had  no  favor  for  such  independent  institutions  for  the 
training  of  the  young.  "  Whereas,"  they  wrote,  "  no  power  is  reserved 
to  his  Majesty  to  appoint  visitors  for  the  better  regulating  the  said 
College,  the  said  Act  hath  been  repealed,  that  the  General  Assembly 
may  renew  the  same  with  a  power  of  visitation  reserved  both  to  his 
Majesty  and  the  Governor  or  Commander-in- Chief  of  that  Province." 

The  first  Act  of  the  next  session,  consisting  of  nine  sections,  was  in 
the  nature  of  a  Bill  of  Rights.  It  contained  the  following  memorable 
provision,  which,  had  it  become  law,  would  have  removed  the  occasion 
for  the  War  of  Independence :  "  No  tax,  tallage,  assessment,  custom, 
loan,  benevolence,  or  imposition  whatever,  shall  be  laid,  assessed,  im 
posed,  or  levied  on  any  of  his  Majesty's  subjects,  or  their  estates,  on 
any  color  or  pretence  whatsoever,  but  by  the  act  and  consent  of  the 
Governor,  Council,  and  Representatives  of  the  people,  assembled  in 
General  Court."  But  the  Privy  Council  disallowed  the  Act,  assigning 
as  one  of  two  reasons  for  so  doing,  that  it  allowed  "  bail  to  be  taken  in 
all  cases  except  treason  and  felony,"  which  "  with  other  privileges  pro 
posed  by  the  said  Act  had  not  been  as  yet  granted  by  his  Majesty  in 
any  of  the  plantations." 

It  would  take  too  much  space  to  present  even  a  general  view  of 


1870.]   Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.     243 

the  legislation  of  Massachusetts  in  that  transition  period -of  twenty-two 
years  which  is  covered  by  this  volume.  The  incapable  administration 
of  the  first  of  King  William's  governors,  and  the  careless  and  friendly 
rule  of  the  other  were  of  short  duration.  The  recreant  son  of  Mas 
sachusetts,  Joseph  Dudley,  governor  for  Queen  Anne,  opened  the  game 
which  was  not  to  be  played  out  till  ten  years  after  the  Stajnp  Act. 
Dudley  brought  urgent  instructions  to  make  the  Province  provide  stated 
salaries  for  the  Governor,  Lieutenant-Governor,  and  Judges.  This 
was  a  demand  to  which  the  Province  could  say  No,  if  it  would,  tak 
ing  of  course  the  responsibility  of  denial,  and  the  peril  of  such  dis 
pleasure  on  the  sovereign's  part  as  it  might  provoke.  By  the  terms 
of  the  charter,  it  belonged  to  the  "  Great  and  General  Court  or  As 
sembly  "  to  raise  and  dispose  of  money  for  "the  necessary  defence  and 
support  of  the  government  of  the  Province."  Without  its  free  grant, 
no  money  could  be  had  from  it.  If  by  establishing  stated  and  perma 
nent  salaries  it  should  release  from  dependence  upon  it  the  Governor 
and  Judges  (creatures  as  these  were  of  the  King,  the  one  immediately, 
the  other  indirectly),  those  officers  would  become  the  uncontrolled  in 
struments  of  the  arbitrary  designs  of  the  court.  The  Province  would 
do  nothing  of  the  sort.  From  that  position  neither  wheedling  nor  men 
aces  ever  moved  it.  Dudley,  energetic  and  astute  and  plausible,  pressed 
the  claim  stubbornly  through  more  than  half  of  his  fourteen  years 
administration,  but  he  gained  not  an  inch  of  ground.  Governor 
Burnet,  the  genial  Bishop's  son,  tried  his  deft  hand  at  it,  and  perhaps 
the  story  of  the  time  was  true,  that  his  disappointment  broke  his  heart. 
At  all  events,  however  it  might  be  about  the  impracticable  knot's 
strangling  him,  he  did  not  loose  or  cut  it.  The  popular  Governor 
Belcher,  grandson  of  the  Cambridge  inn-keeper,  got  on  no  better, 
though  he  had  it  in  charge  to  say  that  unless  there  was  a  reformation, 
"  his  Majesty  would  find  himself  under  the  necessity  of  laying  the  undu- 
tiful  behavior  of  the  Province  before  the  legislature  of  Great  Britain." 
The  Province  persisted  in  its  refusal,  and  the  next  Governor  and  his 
successors  desisted  from  the  hopeless  movement.  The  question  out 
lived  by  several  years  the  time  of  Queen  Anne  and  Governor  Dud 
ley.  But  the  fencing  upon  it  during  the  early  stage  is  a  noticeable 
feature  of  this  volume. 

A  smaller  but  by  no  means  unimportant  matter  related  to  the  right 
of  appeal  by  disappointed  suitors  from  the  local  courts  to  the  King  in 
Council.  In  the  "Act  for  the  establishing  of  judicatories  and  courts  of 
justice  within  this  province,"  passed  by  Governor  Phipps's  first  General 
Court,  this  right  was  secured  to  dissatisfied  parties  "  in  personal  actions 
not  exceeding  £300,  and  no  other."  The  Privy  Council  set  it  aside, 
the  limitation  "  not  being  according  to  the  words  of  the  charter,  and 


244    Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    [July, 

appeals  to  the  King  in  Council  in  real  actions  seeming  thereby  to 
be  excluded."  The  next  year  Massachusetts  tried  again  to  establish 
the  same  principle,  and  with  the  same  ill-success,  in  the  institution 
of  a  Chancery  Court ;  and  the  experiment  was  repeated,  and  once 
more  defeated  two  years  later.  A  law  of  1697  "for  establishing  of 
Courts  "  ordained  "  that  all  matters  -and  issues  of  such  should  be  tried 
by  a  jury  of  twelve  men."  The  Privy  Council  said  No,  inasmuch  as 
Admiralty  Courts  knew  nothing  of  juries,  and  it  belonged  to  the  Ad 
miralty  Courts,  "  at  the  pleasure  of  the  officer  or  informer,"  to  admin 
ister  the  precious  Navigation  Laws.  An  "Act  establishing  of  Sea 
ports  within  the  Province,"  and  designating  eight  ports  of  entry  and 
clearances,  had  to  undergo  the  same  ordeal,  and  was  rejected  for  the 
reasons  that  it  was  a  function  of  the  royal  commissioners  of  the  customs 
to  designate  ports  of  collection,  and  "  that  the  establishing  of  so  many 
ports  in  such  inconsiderable  places  "  would  be  "  a  great  means  to  en 
courage  and  promote  clandestine  and  illegal  trade."  The  Provincial 
legislature  set  about  "  encouraging  a  Post-Office,"  but  the  movement 
appeared  to. the  Privy  Council  "  to  be  prejudicial  to  the  office  of  the 
Postmaster-General,"  whose  patent  included  "  the  Post-Office  in  Amer 
ica";  accordingly  they  were  "humbly  of  opinion  that  the  said  Act  be 
repealed,"  and  their  humble  opinion  prevailed.  An  "  Act  for  the  better 
securing  the  liberty  of  the  subject "  gave  a  right  to  the  writ  of  habeas 
corpus.  Even  the  bigoted  Tory  historian  Chalmers  says  they  were 
wrong  in  this  proceeding,  as,  if  the  right  needed  to  be  supported  by  a 
statute,  they  ought  simply  to  have  assumed  it  as  belonging  indefeasibly 
to  every  subject  of  the  English  realm.  But  King  William's  Privy  Coun 
cil  took  advantage  of  the  false  step,  and  reviving  one  of  the  most  insolent 
doctrines  of  the  despotism  of  Andros,  snuffed  out  the  law,  because  the 
"  privilege  "  which  it  bestowed  had  "  not  as  yet  been  granted  in  any  of 
his  Majesty's  Plantations."  Another  Act  in  1697  "for  incorporating 
Harvard  College  "  gave  a  power  of  visitation  to  the  Governor  and  his 
Council ;  but  this  sharing  of  the  visitatorial  power  did  not  come  up  to 
the  demands  of  the  home  government,  and  the  Act  was  thrown  out  ac 
cordingly.  It  was  one  of  the  last  formal  Acts  which  met  that  fate. 
As  far  as  we  have  observed,  no  Act  of  a  later  date  than  1698  —  that  is, 
no  Act  of  the  time  of  Lord  Bellamont,  or  of  Dudley,  or  of  the  interval 
between  them,  when  Stoughton  was  at  the  head  of  the  administration 
—  was  disallowed  by  the  powers  at  home.  Either  they  had  become 
less  wary  or  less  fastidious,  or  the  Massachusetts  people  had  come 
better  to  understand  how  much  they  might  undertake  for  their  own 
benefit,  with  a  reasonable  prospect  of  carrying  it  through. 

The  operation  of  the  new  charter,  with  its  conditions  for  the  fran 
chise  and  other  provisions,  led  to  a  relaxation  of  the  ancient  religious 


1870.]    Provincial  Acts  and  Resolves  of  Massachusetts  Bay.    245 

severity,  and  of  what  remained  of  the  ancient  connection  of  the  clergy 
with  the  government,  —  a  change  which  had  its  indications  among 
others  in  the  establishment  of  the  church  in  Brattle  Street  on  prin 
ciples  of  some  novelty,  and  in  the  controversies  which  were  beginning 
to  be  stirred  in  and  about  the  college.  One  is  the  more  surprised  to 
find,  as  late  as  1695,  a  law  abridging  the  powers  of  non-communicant 
members  of  churches  in  the  choice  of  their  minister.  An  act  passed 
three  years  before  had  recognized  the  right  of  all  inhabitants  of  a  town 
to  participate  in  the  election  of  the  pastor  whom  all  had  to  aid  in  sup 
porting.  It  was  now  provided  that  if  a  majority  of  the  inhabitants  dis 
approved  a  choice  made  by  the  church-members  the  church  should 
"  call  in  the  help  of  a  council  consisting  of  the  elders  and  messengers 
of  three  or  five  neighboring  churches  "  ;  and  if  this  council  should  ap 
prove  the  church's  action  the  election  should  be  held  to  be  complete, 
and  the  town  must  provide  for  the  maintenance  of  the  minister  so 
elected  and  confirmed. 

The  tax-bills  of  the  time  show  the  relative  wealth  <3f  the  towns.  In 
1694  the  ten  richest  towns  stood  in  this  respect  in  the  following  order; 
namely,  Boston,  Ipswich,  Salem,  Newbury,  Charlestown,  Dorchester, 
Watertown,  Marblehead,  Lynn,  Cambridge.  Twenty  years  after  this 
order  was  but  little  changed,  except  by  the  division  of  municipal  terri 
tories,  as,  for  instance,  the  separation  of  Lexington  from  Cambridge, 
though  some  towns,  as  Springfield  and  Hingham,  had  been  growing 
into  importance.  With  only  two  or  three  exceptions,  and  that  for 
small  amounts,  Boston  had  paid  a  tax  through  the  whole  time  not  less 
than  four  times  as  great  as  that  of  Ipswich,  the  next  richest  town. 

To  undertake  to  comment  on  the  contents  of  a  thick  statute  book 
would  be  something  like  attempting  to  make  an  abstract  of  a  diction 
ary.  A  thoughtful  reader  of  this  volume  will  see  reason  to  apply  to 
many  and  many  a  page  the  remark  forced  from  the  unfriendly  but 
able  and  knowing  Chalmers  when  he  compared  New  England  with  the 
colonies  of  the  South.  In  cases  where  the  legislation  of  Massachusetts 
did  not  cross  the  higher  powers  at  home,  he  was  clear-sighted  and  fair 
enough  often  to  see  and  praise  its  wisdom.  Writing  nearly  a  century 
after  the  enactment  of  some  laws  which  he  named  of  the  early  provin 
cial  period,  he  said  that  they  "  not  only  marked  the  spirit  of  the  people, 
but  were  probably  the  cause  of  the  most  lasting  consequences,"  and  that 
"  to  these  salutary  regulations  much  of  the  pppulousness  and  of  the  com 
merce  of  the  Massachusetts  is  owing."  The  course  of  nearly  another 
prosperous  century  has  now  added  its  testimony  to  the  wholesomeness 
and  durable  efficacy  of  those  primitive  regulations,  and  this,  too,  in  re 
spect  to  matters  more  vital  than  were  dreamed  of  in  the  philosophy  of 
that  juiceless  economist. 


246  Bowen's  Political  Economy.  [July, 

8. — American  Political  Economy ;  including  Strictures  on  the  Man 
agement  of  the  Currency  and  the  Finances  since  1861,  with  a  Chart 
showing  the  Fluctuations  in  the  Price  of  Gold.  By  FRANCIS  BOW- 
EN,  Alford  Professor  of  Natural  Religion,  Moral  Philosophy,  and 
Civil  Polity  in  Harvard  College.  New  York :  Charles  Scribner  & 
Co.  1870.  pp.  495. 

PROFESSOR  BOWEN'S  new  work  on  Political  Economy  (for  such, 
although  nominally  a  new  edition,  he  declares  it  in  effect  to  be)  comes 
at  a  time  when  our  people  much  need  to  be  reminded  of  the  existence 
of  such  a  science ;  though  it  is  at  the  same  time  unfortunate  in  this 
respect,  that  there  has  seldom  been  a  more  widely  spread  disposition 
to  deny  the  fact.  The  national  stomach  has  been  so  nauseated  with 
the  multiplicity  of  doctors  and  of  remedies,  that  it  leans  strongly  to 
the  expectant  system  of  laissez-faire,  in  the  somewhat  ludicrous  sense, 
perhaps,  which  Mr.  Bowen  gives  to  the  phrase,  —  that  of  securing 
the  freedom  of  the  individual  by  tying  the  hands  and  feet  of  everybody 
else  lest  he  should  be  interfered  with. 

The  book  appears  to  us  to  be  unusually  readable.  The  English 
works  on  the  subject  are  in  a  great  degree  theoretical  and,  therefore, 
dry.  Professor  Bowen  charges  them  with  being  written  mainly  on  the 
deductive  principle ;  and  in  the  attempt  to  change  the  method  to  induc 
tion  he  certainly  adds  materially,  by  practical  illustrations,  to  the  in 
terest  of  the  subject.  The  term  "  American  "  savors  slightly  of  con 
gressional  rhetoric,  and  we  do  not  remember  having  seen  an  English 
or  a  French  Political  Economy.  It  is  not,  however,  an  unmeaning 
phrase.  Mr.  Bowen  adduces  the  conditions  of  property  and  population 
in  this  country  to  show  that  the  principles  underlying  the  reasoning  of 
English  economists  are  based  upon  the  peculiar  form  of  English  society, 
and  that  much  of  human  suffering,  charged  by  the  writers  of  that  nation 
upon  the  necessary  conditions  of  social  existence,  is  in  reality  attribu 
table  to  unjust  social  arrangements.  Malthus  on  population,  and  Ri- 
cardo  on  rent,  are  the  great  dragons  against  which  he  feels  bound  to 
do  vigorous  battle.  On  the  other  hand,  Mr.  Bowen  certainly  cannot 
be  charged  with  socialistic  tendencies. 

The  subject  of  free-trade  is  one  upon  which  Mr.  Bowen  will  give 
least  satisfaction  to  the  English  mind.  Having  read  a  good  deal  upon 
this  question,  with  an  impartial  mind  as  we  trust,  we  confess  that  the  dis 
putants  seem  to  us  to  resemble  the  two  knights  who  were  fighting  about 
the  golden  and  silver  shield.  In  the  artificial  condition  of  modern  so 
ciety,  absolute  free-trade  is  a  chimera.  So  long  as  England,  the  cham 
pion  of  the  doctrine,  raises  any  revenue  from  customs,  or  subsidizes  a 


1870.]  Bowerfs  Political  Economy.  247 

single  line  of  steamships,  she  does  not  stand  above  reproof.  In  this 
sense  Mr.  Wells,  who  has  served  as  a  bone  of  much  contention  of 
late,  is  no  more  a  free-trader  than  he  is  a  Jew.  He  admits  that,  not 
withstanding  a  tariff  of  over  forty  per  cent  on  the  average,  there  is 
hardly  an  article  which  during  the  last  five  years  could  not  be  im 
ported  cheaper  than  it  could  be  manufactured  in  the  United  States. 
But,  while  urging  reform  of  the  tariff,  he  by  no  means  advocates  its 
abolition.  At  a  time  when  even  this  high  tariff  is  nearly  offset  by 
internal  taxation  and  the  vicious  state  of  our  currency,  and  when  the 
state  of  our  foreign  trade  is  such  that  we  are  running  into  debt 
abroad  at  a  rate  of  fully  two  hundred  millions  a  year,  it  seems  hardly 
judicious  to  talk  of  taking  off  all  check  upon  foreign  importations.  The 
fact  appears  to  be  that  it  is  a  question  entirely  of  expediency,  and  that 
the  evil  in  our  case  consists  in  the  varying  adjustment  of  the  tariff  by 
private  interests  working  in  secret  committees.  The  remedy  is,  we 
think,  to  be  found,  not  in  declamations  upon  free-trade,  but  in  treating 
the  tariff  in  connection  with  the  whole  scheme  of  finance  to  be  intro 
duced  into  Congress  by  the  executive,  and  discussed  in  public  in  the 
interest  of  the  whole  people. 

The  nature  and  operation  of  money  form  the  rock  upon  which  politi 
cal  economists  are  most  apt  to  split.  It  is  unfortunate  for  this  branch 
of  the  science  that  the  practical  experiments  are  almost  wholly  con 
ducted  by  men  who  have  little  interest  in  general  principles,  and  less 
knowledge  of  them,  while  theorists  have  usually  but  little  opportunity 
for  practical  observation.  If  Mr.  Bowen  could  pass  five  years  in  a 
broker's  office  in  Wall  Street  he  might  learn  much  upon  this  subject 
that  he  will  never  reach  through  books  alone.  The  labors  of  Mr.  J. 
Stuart  Mill  in  this  department  have  produced  very  little  fruit,  while 
those  of  Lord  Overstone  have  resulted  in  the  establishment  of  the  pres 
ent  Bank  of  England  system,  —  a  system  which  has  done  very  much 
for  the  establishment  of  a  sound  currency,  and  which,  though  not  un 
tainted  with  evil  that  demands  a  similar  mind  to  secure  its  elimination, 
cannot  be  too  much  recommended  as  a  subject  of  study  for  our  finan 
ciers.  We  are  sure  that  Mr.  Mill,  and  we  believe  that  Mr.  Bowen, 
has  but  a  very  imperfect  comprehension  of  the  principles  on  which  that 
system  is  based. 

It  is  Mr.  Bowen's  great  error  with  regard  to  money  —  one  which  he 
shares  with  other  theorists  —  that  he  greatly  undervalues  its  impor 
tance.  Treating  money  merely  as  a  medium  of  exchange,  he  regards 
it  simply  as  an  agent  for  facilitating  the  operations  of  commerce,  and 
through  it,  as  the  shadow,  he  seeks  to  pass  to  the  substance  behind. 
We,  on  the  contrary,  believe  that  money,  as  distinct  from  credit,  is 


248  Bowerfs  Political  Economy.  [July, 

one  of  the  most  positive  and  powerful  of  forces  for  good  and  for  evil. 
Mr.  Bowen  defines  money  as  consisting  in  strictness  only  of  specie. 
Currency  he  defines  as  the  current  substitute  for  money,  including  under 
it  notes  payable  on  demand,  promissory  notes,  bonds,  bank  deposits,  etc. 
This  definition  we  hold  to  be  vitally  erroneous,  and  would  rather  de 
fine  money  or  currency  —  believing  them  to  be  equivalent  terms  —  as< 
including  everything  which  will  pay  debts,  make  purchases,  etc.,  with 
out  introducing  any  question  of  its  own  price.  This  definition  applies 
to  specie,  notes  payable  on  demand  to  bearer,  and  bank  deposits.  It 
does  not  apply  to  promissory  notes  or  other  obligations  payable  at  a 
future  time,  because  with  them  there  is  a  question  of  interest,  that  is, 
of  price.  The  paper  money  of  Great  Britain  and  that  of  this  country 
before  the  war,  being  both  convertible  into  specie,  were  equivalent  to 
specie  and  therefore  to  each  other,  and  were  actual  additions  to  the 
money  of  the  world.  They  were  not  substitutes  for  money,  but  money 
itself.  A  gold  dollar  possesses  an  intrinsic  value  ;  but  if  a  paper  dol 
lar  can  be  made  to  do  the  same  work,  and  also  be  exchangeable  at 
pleasure  for  the  gold  dollar,  the  paper  has  for  the  time  exactly  the 
same  value  as  the  gold.  That  this  value  may  be  diminished  or  de 
stroyed  by  over-issue  is  no  refutation  of  this  view.  When,  therefore, 
the'  economists  set  themselves  to  estimate  the  decline  in  the  value  of 
gold,  from  excessive  production,  they  overlook  the  fact  that  the  in 
crease  of  money  in  the  form  of  bank-notes  and  deposits  in  the  last 
half-century  is  at  least  twice  or  three  times  as  great  as  that  in  the 
form  of  specie.  Yet  so  enormous  has  been  the  expansion  of  the  com 
merce  of  the  world,  and  the  consequent  increased  uses  for  money,  that 
its  value  has  probably  not  declined  more  than  about  one  half. 

Mr.  Bowen  defines  floating  capital  as  "  the  aggregate  of  merchan 
dise  of  all  sorts  directly  exposed  for  sale."  We  believe  that  money  — 
even  paper  money  —  as  the  measure  of  value  and  the  instrument  of 
exchange,  is  capital  just  as  much  as,  though  not  more  than,  a  yard-stick, 
a  plough,  or  a  factory ;  though  as  the  latter  are  used  only  for  limited 
purposes,  while  money  enters  into  almost  every  transaction  of  our  lives, 
its  value  as  capital  is  exaggerated  in  the  popular  view.  Mr.  Bowen  is 
occasionally  led  into  contradictions  by  the  clashing  of  facts  with  his 
arbitrary  definitions.  On  page  248  h"e  says :  "  To  increase  the  stock 
of  money  in  a  country  is  not  thereby  to  augment  the  fund  available 
for  loans,  or  to  diminish  the  difficulty  of  borrowing,  or  to  lower  the 
rate  of  interest."  On  page  305  :  "  The  great  addition  to  the  stock  of 
precious  metals  will  appear,  at  first,  in  the  form  of  floating  capital 
seeking  investment.  Thus,  until  the  prices  of  commodities  begin  to 
be  sensibly  affected,  there  will  be  more  lenders  than  borrowers,  and 


1870.]  Bowen9  s  Political  Economy.  249 

money  will  be  offered  at  a  lower  interest."  We  agree  with  the  latter 
of  the  two  views.  An  increase  of  money  makes  it  abundant,  until  a 
rise  of  prices  or  a  new  development  of  business  absorbs  the  surplus. 
Were  it  possible  for  the  increase  of  money  to  be  steady  and  constant 
there  seems  to  be  no  reason  why  business  should  riot  have  a  steady 
prosperity  and  development.  Unfortunately  the  increase  of  bank 
money  has  a  limit ;  and  sooner  or  later,  under  the  existing  system 
at  least,  a  contraction  follows,  which  is  generally  sudden  and  se 
vere.  Commercial  crises,  which  Mr.  Bowen  attributes  almost  wholly 
to  speculation,  we  believe  to  be  mainly  chargeable  to  fluctuations  in 
the  quantity  and  value  of  money  produced  by  the  voluntary,  though 
perhaps  unconscious,  action  of  banks. 

We  have  differed  from  Mr.  Bowen  as  to  deposits  being  money.  He 
may  probably  be  still  more  incredulous  at  the  statement  that  deposits 
are  money  created  by  the  banks  exactly  as  their  notes  on  demand  are. 
But  we  make  the  statement  with  confidence,  though  we  have  not  now 
space  to  enter  upon  the  proof  of  it.  In  view  of  this,  any  system  which 
shall  attempt  to  regulate  bank-notes  without  also  reaching  the  deposits 
must  fail  of  its  purpose. 

There  is  another  popular  error  into  which  Mr.  Bowen  seems  to  have 
fallen,  —  that  of  measuring  the  depreciation  of  our  currency  by  the 
price  of  gold,  and  supposing  that  a  fall  of  the  latter  indicates  improve 
ment  of  the  former.  It  is  undoubtedly  true  that  this  must,  in  the  long 
run,  be  the  test ;  but  it  may  be  altogether  falsified  for  the  time.  The 
demand  for  our  securities  in  Europe  has  for  some  years  been  such  as 
to  offset  an  adverse  foreign  trade  with  but  little  export  of  gold.  And, 
as  there  was  no  use  for  gold  at  home,  even  the  small  amount  upon  the 
market  has  been  sufficient  to  depress  the  price.  If,  as  we  believe,  our 
general  prices  are  much  higher,  the  fall  in  gold  is  simply  a  premium 
upon  imports,  and  these  will  continue  in  excess  till,  the  demand  for  se 
curities  being  satiated,  a  drain  of  gold  must  take  place  ;  the  price  will 
then  probably  rule  as  much  too  high  as  it  is  now  too  low. 

The  history  of  our  greenback  currency,  the  National  Bank  system, 
the  creation  and  form  of  our  own  and  foreign  debts,  with  our  own  and 
foreign  systems  of  taxation,  —  all  these  are  subjects  which  Professor 
Bowen  treats  at  length,  and  into  which  we  should  be  glad  to  follow 
him.  We  yield  to  the  lack  of  space,  however,  with  the  less  regret 
from  the  conviction  that  what  the  country  needs  is,  not  so  much  a 
sound  exposition  as  the  practical  application  of  any  principles.  It 
is  doubtful  if  the  theory  of  finance  has  ever  been  so  extensively 
discussed  as  in  the  publications  of  this  country  for  the  last  few 
years.  Yet  when  one  looks  at  the  utter  confusion  in  the  debates  and 


250  List  of  some  Recent  Publications.  [July. 

action  of  Congress,  the  total  want  of  plan,  and  defiance  of  all  settled 
principle,  it  makes  one  look  with  anxiety  for  the  mind  which  is  to  bring 
order  out  of  this  chaos.  And  the  extraordinary  feature  about  it  is  that 
this  recklessness  has  hitherto  been  attended  with  apparent  success. 
Diminution  of  debt  and  the  approach  of  gold  to  par,  these  are  the 
popular  tests  of  improving  finance.  It  needs  no  very  keen  observa 
tion,  however,  to  perceive  —  and  indeed  the  depressed  and  expectant 
attitude  of  business  shows  a  growing  consciousness  of  the  fact  —  that 
financial  laws  are  silently  working  out  their  mission,  and  that  the 
recoil  must  sooner  or  later  be  the  more  violent  from  the  long  and  severe 
tension  with  which  they  have  been  resisted. 


LIST   OF   SOME  RECENT  PUBLICATIONS. 

1.  Systems  of  Land  Tenure. in  Various  Countries:    A  Series  of  Essays 
published  under  the  Sanction  of  the  Cobden  Club.     London :  Macmillan  & 
Co.     1870.     8vo.     pp.  420. 

2.  Alaska  and  its  Resources.     By  William  H.  Dall.     Boston :   Lee  and 
Shepard.     1870.     8vo.     pp.  640. 

3.  The  Invitation  Heeded :  Reasons  for  a  Return  to  Catholic  Unity.     By 
James  Kent  Stone,  S.  T.  D.,  late  President  of  Kenyon  College,  and  of  Hobart 
College.     New  York  :    The   Catholic  Publication  Society.      1870.      12mo. 
pp.  341. 

4.  Poems.     By  Dante  Gabriel  Rossetti.  Boston:    Roberts  Brothers.   1870. 
12mo.     pp.  280. 

5.  The  History   of  English  Poetry,  from  the  Eleventh  to  the   Seven 
teenth  Century.     By  Thomas  Warton,  B.  D.    From  the  last  London  Edi 
tion.     New  York:  G.  P.  Putnam  and  Sons.     1870.     8vo.     pp.  1032. 

6.  The  Diary  of  John  Evelyn,  Esq.,  from  the  Year  1641  to  1705-6,  and  a 
Selection  of  his  Familiar  Letters.     From  the  last  London  Edition.     New 
York  :  G.  P.  Putnam  and  Sons.     1870.     8vo.     pp.  783. 

7.  A  Comparative  Grammar  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  Language  ;  in  which  its 
Forms  are  illustrated  by  those  of  the  Sanskrit,   Greek,  Latin,   Gothic,  Old 
Saxon,  Old  Friesic,  Old  Norse,  and  Old  High  German.    By  Francis  A.  March, 
Professor  of  English  and  of  Comparative  Philology  in  Lafayette  College.    New 
York:  Harper  and  Brothers.     1870.     8vo.     pp.253. 

8.  The  Bible  in  the  Public  Schools.     Arguments  and  Opinions  in  the  Case 
of  the  Cincinnfc  :  Board  of  Education,  before  the  Superior  Court  of  Cincin 
nati.     Cincinnati:  Robert  Clarke  &  Co.     1870.     8vo.     pp.418. 

9.  The  First  Book  of  Botany.    Designed  to  Cultivate  the  Observing  Powers 
of  Children.     By  Eliza  A.  Youmans.    New  York :  D.  Appleton  &  Co.     1870. 
12mo.     pp.  183. 


NORTH    AMERICAN     REVIEW. 

• 

No.  CCXXIX. 


OCTOBER,    1870. 


ART.  I.  —  A  Historical  Account  of  the  Neutrality  of  Great  Brit" 
ain  during  the  American  Civil  War.  By  MOUNTAGUE  BER 
NARD,  M.  A.,  Chichele  Professor  of  International  Law  and 
Diplomacy  in  the  University  of  Oxford.  London :  Longmans, 
Green,  Reader,  and  Dyer.  1870. 

THE  late  war  of  the  Rebellion  suddenly  brought  the  United 
States  into  a  very  novel  position.  We  had  enjoyed  almost 
unbroken  peace  since  the  acknowledgment  of  our  indepen 
dence  by  Great  Britain,  in  1782  ;  and  the  single  important  war 
of  the  present  century  to  which  we  were  parties  had  had  its 
rise  in  violations  of  our  rights  of  neutrality.  But  now,  all 
of  a  sudden,  we  became  belligerents,  before  either  the  country 
or  the  government  was  fully  acquainted  with  the  new  part  we 
had  to  act.  Would  it  be  strange  if  a  nation  so  situated  should 
abandon  its  old  ground,  should  stretch  belligerent  and  contract 
neutral  rights,  or  should  even  make  claims  which  it  had  con 
tested  when  they  were  advanced  by  others  ?  Then  another  pe 
culiarity  of  our  situation  lay  in  the  nature  of  our  institutions. 
Such  a  federal  union  had  not  been  known  before  at  all,  and  a 
disruption  on  so  vast  a  scale  was  new  to  history  and  to  inter 
national  law.  The  organizing  power,  so  strikingly  cultivated 
under  our  forms  of  liberty,  and  the  proximity  to  one  another  of 
States  having  a  common  interest  and  common  apprehensions, 
made  it  easy  for  them  to  secede  and  form  a  new  union,  —  as 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  229.  17 


252  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

easy,  in  fact,  as  it  is,  under  the  facile  divorce  laws  of  some  of  the 
States,  for  a  wife  to  rid  herself  of  her  husband  and  take  another. 
This  sudden  birth  of  a  new  confederation,  ready  for  defence  or 
aggression,  gave  to  the  foreigner  an  impression  of  a  want  of  co 
herence  between  the  parts  of  the  Republic,  of  a  fatal  weakness 
at  the  centre  of  our  system,  which  augured  a  vain  attempt  to  re 
press  revolution  either  by  force,  or  by  concession  which  would 
forever  enfeeble  the  general  government.  And  as  soon  as  the 
struggle  began,  it  seemed,  when  looked  at  from  abroad,  like  a 
full-blown  war, — a  war,  too,  over  so  vast  a  territory,  and  against 
a  foe  so  well  organized  and  so  determined,  that  the  issue  was 
not  doubtful.  Who  would  not  call  the  parties  to  the  revolt  bel 
ligerents  ?  On  the  other  hand,  from  our  point  of  view,  the 
movement  at  the  South  appeared  like  one  of  the  many  threats 
that  had  been  made  before  :  it  meant  no  permanent  withdrawal 
from  the  Union  ;  it  would  need  marshals  and  district  judges, 
rather  than  generals  and  commanders  of  ships  ;  a  few  months . 
would  bring  wisdom  back  into  feverish  minds,  especially  when 
they  found  that  at  the  North  no  active  help  was  to  be  hoped 
for.  The  government,  therefore,  was  unwilling  to  admit  that 
a  war  was  upon  us,  while  it  took  war  measures  ;  the  enemy 
was  not  a  belligerent ;  and  if  we  had  had  ships  enough  to  set 
on  foot  a  rigorous  blockade  of  all  the  Southern  coasts,  scarcely 
any  levies  of  troops  would  be  needed.  The  courts  and  district 
attorneys  would  soon  do  their  work  in  the  restoration  of  civil 
order.  If  we  add  the  consideration  that  civil  war  grows  from 
small  beginnings,  without  announcing  itself  or  revealing  what 
it  is  to  be,  it  is  evident  that  a  difference  of  opinion  on  various 
questions  touching  the  conflict  might  arise,  according  as  it  was 
watched  from  near  at  hand  or  from  across  the  ocean. 

Another  point  deserving  attention,  in  regard  to  the  contest, 
Was  the  new  questions  to  which  the  progress  of  society  during 
the  last  half  century  might  give  birth.  Since  the  downfall  of 
Napoleon,  there  had  been  but  short  and  local  wars  in  Europe. 
Neutral  interest  had  vastly  increased  in  importance,  when 
weighed  against  belligerent  interests.  The  Declaration  of 
Paris  in  1856  had  put  a  new  face  for  nearly  all  the  nations  of 
Europe  on  most  of  the  relations  of  belligerents  and  neutrals, 
about  which  there  had  been  no  agreement.  The  new  way  of 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  253 

navigating  by  steam  would  render  it  easier  to  break  blockade, 
and  would  spread  belligerent  vessels  over  the  world,  if  they 
could  only  have  a  supply  of  coal.  What  liberties  would  neu 
trals  concede  in  regard  to  such  supplies  ?  Would  they  change 
their  policy  as  it  respected  bringing  prizes  into  their  ports? 
Questions  never  asked  before  would  now  have  to  be  asked  and 
answered. 

It  was  not  strange  that  a  war  so  remarkable  in  its  origin  and 
in  its  nature,  and  waged  at  such  an  epoch  of  the  world,  fastened 
upon  it  the  attention  of  the  publicists  of  Europe,  some  of  whom, 
in  their  discussions  of  questions  that  arose  during  its  progress, 
have  contributed  not  a  little  to  the  science  of  international  law. 
Soon  after  the  affair  of  the  Trent  was  known  in  Europe,  a  pro 
fessor  in  an  inland  university  of  Germany  —  Marquardsen  of 
Erlangen,  in  Bavaria  —  gave  to  the  world  what  is,  perhaps,  the 
most  satisfactory  essay  on  the  points  of  law  involved  in  that 
transaction.  The  speculations  of  Hautefeuille  are  better  known 
arid  less  valuable.  The  essays  of k<  Historicus,"  especially  on  the 
recognition  of  revolting  provinces,  were  timely  and  serviceable 
to  the  cause  of  order.  Our  author,  also,  who  had  been  for  a 
number  of  years  the  Chichele  Professor  of  International  Law  and 
Diplomacy  at  Oxford,  gave  promise,  so  to  speak,  of  a  larger 
treatment  of  the  subject  by  publishing,  in  1861,  two  lectures  on 
the  war  in  America.  He  had  been  before  known  by  his  valu 
able  contribution  on  the  laws  and  usages  of  war,  which  ap 
peared  in  the  Oxford  essays  of  1856,  and  has  since  published  a 
small  work  on  diplomacy  in  general,  and  more  especially  as 
illustrated  by  the  peace  of  Westphalia.  In  his  present  work  he 
has  performed  a  service  for  which  the  students  in  his  science, 
will  be  grateful ;  he  has  gone  over  the  whole  field  of  claims  and 
questions  to  which  our  civil  war  gave  birth.  In  most  of  these 
questions  England,  as  the  leading  neutral  and  the  principal 
commercial  country,  was  directly  and  mainly  concerned.  A 
work,  therefore,  entitled  "A  Historical  Account  6f  the  Neutrality 
of  Great  Britain  during  the  American  Civil  War,"  if  faithful  to 
its  subject,  must  be  a  history  of  international  law,  so  far  as  its 
rules  were  discussed  between  the  United  States  and  the  other 
states  of  the  Christian  world. 

A  work  of  such  a  kind  must  be  estimated  by  its  spirit,  by  its 


254  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.          [Oct. 

plan,  and  by  the  success  of  the  execution.   Of  the  spirit  we  will 
let  Mr.  Bernard  speak  for  himself:  — 

"A  writer  who  undertakes  to  deal  with  questions  lately  disputed,-— 
some  of  them  still  in  dispute, —  between  a  foreign  government  and  his 
own,  can  scarcely  hope  to  be  perfectly  impartial.  But  he  is  bound,  be 
fore  expressing  any  opinion,  to  clear  his  mind  from  any  conscious  bias, 
and  he  has  a  right  to  expect  the  same  sincerity  from  others.  America 
has  many  jurists,  especially  in  the  department  of  international  law, 

•whom  it  would  be  an  impertinence  to  praise They  will  feel  as 

I  do,  that,  divided  as  we  are,  and  must  be,  by  our  national  sympathies, 
we  yet  owe,  as  jurists,  the  highest  candor  to  one  another.  If  I  fail  in 
that  duty,  —  if  I  attempt  to  apply  to  America  any  rule  which  I  should 
hesitate  to  apply,  under  like  circumstances,  to  England,  —  I  am  justly 
to  blame,  and  what  I  write  deserves  no  attention.  International  law 
knows  no  ^country  ;  in  aim  and  intention,  at  least,  its  rules  are  uni 
form  and  universal,  though  the  conception  of  them  has  varied  more  or 
less  in  different  places,  according  to  differences  of  national  policy,  of 
local  jurisprudence,  or  of  the  traditions  in  which  statesmen  and  lawyers 
are  bred.  What  it  prescribes  to  any  one  state,  that  it  imposes  on  all ; 
and  the  body  of  opinion  which  it  represents,  and  the  judgment  to  which 
in  cases  of  controversy  it  appeals,  are  those,  not  of  England  or  of 
America,  of  Germany  or  France,  but  of  the  whole  civilized  world." 

We  bear  our  testimony,  after  a  careful  examination  of  Mr. 
Bernard's  work,  to  his  upright  intention  and  his  prevailing 
spirit  of  candor  and  impartiality.  And  this  will  be  regarded 
as  very  high  praise  by  all  who  are  familiar  with  the  history  of 
opinions  on  international  law ;  above  all,  by  those  who  have 
noticed  the  sharp  lines  which  formerly  separated  the  jurists  of 
the  Continent  from  those  of  England,  as  it  regards  certain 
maritime  relations  between  belligerents  and  neutrals.  The 
example  of  our  author  is  indeed  a  model  for  those  on  this  side 
of  the  water  who  cultivate  the  same  field  of  science.  It  is 
harder  for  us  to  be  impartial,  because  we  were  de  facto  the  in 
jured  party  in  the  war,  which  owed  its  wearisome  length  and 
its  immense  cost  in  no  small  degree  to  the  ship-builders  and 
blockade-runners  of  neutral  powers,  or  rather  of  a  single  neu 
tral  power.  We  imputed  the  injury  which  we  suffered  to  moral 
wrong,  of  which  the  state  or  states  from  within  whose  borders 
the  evil  proceeded  were  guilty,  forgetting  that  international 
law,  like  municipal,  must  allow  much  evil  to  go  orf  for  the  sake 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  255 

of  a  greater  good,  and  forgetting  also  that  our  own  principles 
and  example  when  we  were  neutrals  furnish  precedents  to 
other  neutrals  when  we  became  belligerents.  If  the  fairness 
and  coolness  of  a  writer  like  Mr.  Bernard  should  influence  the 
spirit  of  American  discussion,  there  would  be  hope  of  a  speed 
ier  solution  "of  certain  questions  between  belligerents  and  neu 
trals  which  must  arise  hereafter  in  every  important  war. 

Mr.  Bernard's  plan  is  indicated  by  the  title  of  his  work,  "  A 
Historical  Account  of  British  Neutrality,"  etc.  No  other  method 
would  have  been  equally  satisfactory.  The  questions  discussed 
between  the  two  governments  grew  out  of  particular  cases,  and 
the  application  of  particular  rules  of  law;  these  questions 
changed  during  the  progress  of  the  war ;  they  could  be  best 
understood  after  a  somewhat  detailed  recital  of  the  circum 
stances  ;  it  was  important  to  give  the  leading  arguments 
of  diplomacy  on  both  sides.  In  fact,  the  historical  method  is 
alone  competent  to  answer  the  great  question  whether,  with 
the  progress  of  intercourse  between  all  parts  of  the  world, 
the  interests  of  neutrals  and  belligerents  must  not  be  harmon 
ized  on  somewhat  new  principles  ;  whether  the  experience  of  a 
vast  war  like  our  recent  one,  as  looked  at  by  dispassionate 
jurists,  will  not  lay  a  foundation  for  important  reforms  in 
this  branch  of  jural  science. 

For  one  thing  we  are  sure  that  many  will  be  thankful  to  Mr. 
Bernard,  —  for  the  extracts  from  state  papers  in  which  the 
leading  questions  of  interest  are  discussed.  Certainly  those 
who  know  what  a  weariness  to  the  flesh  it  is  to  rummage 
through  volumes  of  diplomatic  correspondence,  to  go  from 
book  to  book  without  finding  the  passage  desired,  or  to  fail  of 
finding  it  because  the  volume  is  missing  in  an  imperfect  library 
of  political  science,  —  and  all  public  libraries  in  this  country 
are  imperfect,  —  will  appreciate  the  labor  and  the  service  of 
our  author  in  making  so  many  important  documents  accessible 
to  all. 

Professor  Bernard  introduces  his  work  by  a  series  of  chap 
ters  in  which  the  causes  of  the  war,  near  and  remote,  and  its 
first  events  until  after  the  battle  of  Bull  Run,  are  succinctly, 
but  very  clearly  and  fairly,  described.  One  extract  will  show 
his  estimate  of  the  nature  of  the  revolt,  as  well  as  of  the  dim"- 


256  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.          [Oct. 

cutties  with  which  the  United  States  had  to  contend  in  putting 
it  down :  — 

"  The  revolt  of  the  Confederate  States  has  some  characteristic  fea 
tures.  We  cannot  fail  to  be  "struck  by  the  celerity  with  which  the  re 
volted  communities  establi>hed  a  regular  government,  the  long  interval 
which  was  suffered  to  elapse  before  any  attempt  was  made  to  reconquer 
them,  and  the  footing  of  equality  on  which  the  combatants  met  at  their 
first  encounter  in  the  field.  The  explanation  of  these  things  is  easy 
and  lies  on  the  surface  of  this  narrative.  The  eleven  States  were  com 
pletely  organized  as  self-governed  communities,  before  they  attempted 
to  sever  their  connection  with  the  Union  ;  as  a  Confederacy  they  had 
only  to  reproduce  and  set  in  motion  a  machinery  with  the  working  of 
which  they  were  perfectly  familiar,  and  of  which  both  the  model  and 
the  materials  were  ready  to  their  hands.  Yet,  could  the  Federal  gov 
ernment  have  marched  an  army  on  Charleston  as  soon  as  South  Caro 
lina  issued  her  declaration  of  independence,  the  revolt  might  have  been 
crushed  in  its  infancy,  and  the  Union  might  have  been  saved  from  years 
of  devastation  and  carnage.  But  the  Federal  government  was  para 
lyzed,  not  only  by  its  own  weakness,  but  by  peculiar  restraints  and  ex 
traordinary  difficulties.  It  had  at  its  disposal  no  regular  army 

Further,  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  Federal  government  was  really 
embarrassed  ....  by  that  peculiar  reluctance  to  resort  to  force  which 
an  American  government  might  be  expected  to  entertain.  This  reluc 
tance,  —  the  consciousness  that  it  was  generally  felt  around  him,  —  the 
fear  lest  an  attempt  to  "  invade  "  should  drive  (as  in  fact  it  did)  the 
Border  Slave  States,  in  whom  the  feeling  was  most  keen  and  irritable, 
into  open  revolt,  —  the  hope,  which  many  sensible  and  experienced 
men  were  loath  to  abandon,  that  attachment  to  the  Union  might  yet 
survive,  and  the  Confederacy,  if  left  to  itself,  crumble  away,  —  these 
influences  speak  in  Mr.  Lincoln's  inaugural  address,  though  they  can 
hardly  be  said  to  supply  a  reasonable  account  of  his  policy." 

It  may  be  added  to  all  this,  that  the  government  was  in  a 
peculiarly  helpless  condition  when  the  new  President  came  into 
office,  and  that  the  North  was  too  divided  in  politics  to  be  cal 
culated  upon  for  any  immediately  efficient  policy.  It  was 
necessary  that  the  insurrection  should  begin  the  armed  contest 
and  sever  the  Union  by  violence,  in  order  to  show  to  their  polit 
ical  friends  in  the  North  what  they  were  ready  to  do.  The 
bombardment  of  Fort  Sumter,  therefore,  if  war  was  inevitable, 
was  a  blessing,  because  it  forced  men  to  choose  a  positive  line 
of  action. 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  257 

The  readiness  with  which  the  Southern  Confederacy  was 
organized  was  fitted  to  make  more  impression  of  strength  and 
firm  purpose  on  foreigners  than  on  ourselves.  The  spirit  of 
political  organization  is  too  familiar  to  .us  to  excite  surprise ;  and 
the  Constitution  of  the  Confederate  States  was  nothing  but  the 
old  one  altered  to  provide  against  the  overthrow  of  slavery. 
But  while  something  more  was  needed  to  persuade  us  that  the 
Southern  movements  meant  permanent  secession,  often  threat 
ened,  but  never  accomplished  before,  to  the  eyes  of  Europe  the 
Montgomery  Constitution  meant  complete  and  final  disruption, 
a  separate  nationality,  and  war  in  case  of  collision.  To  the 
foreigner,  a  new  nation  seemed  to  be  coming  into  existence  ;  to 
us,  the  movement  seemed  frantic  and  short-lived.  Both  were 
in  error.  Our  ignorance  was,  probably,  essential  to  our  suc 
cess.  The  misconception  on  the  other  side  of  the  water  was 
founded  on  what  may  be  called  deceptive  facts,  and  thus  i$ 
had  an  important  bearing  on  questions  of  belligerency  and 
neutrality. 

The  questions  whether  there  was  a  war  between  the  Union 
and  the  Confederacy,  and  when  it  began,  Professor  Bernard 
does  not  discuss,  but  rather  relies  on  American  authorities,  and  . 
mainly  on  the  decision  "of  our  Supreme  Court.  The  principal 
points  in  the  opinion  of  the  majority  of  the  judges  were  that 
at  and  before  the  date  of  the  President's  proclamation  of 
blockade  a  war  was  in  existence  ;  that  the  blockade  was  an  act 
of  war  instituted  jure  belli,  not  originating  war  but  presuppos 
ing  it ;  and  that  from  the  fact  of  war  all  persons  in  the  Con 
federate  States  acquired  a  hostile,  and  in  foreign  states  a 
neutral,  character.  This  neutral  character  exposed  neutral 
vessels  to  capture  on  the  high  seas,  — r  a  liability  which  the  fact 
of  war  alone,  and  no  municipal  regulation  or  exercise  of  public 
authority,  could  justify. 

But  a  civil  war,  especially  one  where  territorial  lines  divide 
the  parties,  has  peculiarities  of  its  own.  It  places  individuals 
in  the  territory  attempting  to  gain  independence  in  new  rela 
tions  to  the  old  Constitution  and  government.  "  A  govern 
ment  supposed  to  be  sovereign  is  at  war  with  those  that  are 
supposed  to  be  its  subjects.  There  is  a  clashing  of  incompati 
ble  relations  ;  the  same  person  being,  if  a  loyal  inhabitant  of  a 


258  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

revolted  territory,  both  a  citizen  and  a  public  enemy,  or,  if  a  dis 
loyal,  and  taken  captive  in  actual  war,  treated  as  a  subject  of  a 
foreign  nation.  And  even  the  unlawful  governments  them 
selves  may  be  regarded^  in  certain  respects,  as  exercising  a 
just  authority.  Such  are  the  conflicts  of  right  and  fact  in  the 
case  of  a  community  having  a  political  existence  and  endeavor 
ing  to  change  the  form  of  that  existence."  Is  it  strange,  asks 
Professor  Bernard,  that  this  anomalous  condition  should  affect 
international  relations  also  ?  Suppose  such  a  community  to  com 
mit  wrongful  acts  against  foreigners,  to  whom  is  the  foreign 
state  to  apply  for  redress  when  the  sovereign  is  helpless,  and 
the  insurgents  may,  erelong,  lose  their  de  facto  existence  ? 
And  if  the  foreigners  have  had  commercial  intercourse  with 
the  insurgents  as  well  as  with  their  sovereign,  on  what  terms 
is  that  intercourse  to  be  continued  after  an  armed  conflict  has 
begun  ?  On  the  sea  especially,  shall  they  submit  to  be  searched 
by  either  or  by  both  parties  to  the  civil  war  ?  If  they  submit, 
for  instance,  to  search  exercised  by  the  old  established  govern 
ment  only,  and  resist  it  when  exercised  by  the  revolutionists, 
they  are  not  neutrals,  but  parties  to  the  war,  if  that  state  of 

•  things  can  be  called  war  which  is  unilateral,  in  which  there  is 
only  one  belligerent.     They  are  thus  forced  in  every  such  case, 
although  they  have  stood  aside  altogether  from  the  causes  of 
the  war,  to  become  parties  to  it.     The  simple  practical  solution 
here,  to  use  our  author's  language, kt  is  found  in  recognizing 
both  parties  as  belligerents  ;  that  is  (to  expand  the  phrase  into 
an  expression  of  its  full  meaning),  as  entitled,  in  respect  of 
the  neutral,  to  all  those  exceptional  rights  and  powers  with 
which  sovereign  states  at  war  with  one  another  are  clothed  by 
international  law."      The  recognition  of  these  rights  draws 
after  it  the  recognition  of"  the  means  by  which  they  are  exer- 

*  cised,  —  of  prize  courts  established  in  the  manner  known  to 
the  law  of  nations,  of  commissions  issued  by  the  government 
of  the  community  attempting  to  become  a  state,  of  a  flag  by 
which  its  cruisers  are  known  upon  the  sea. 

It  has  sometimes  been  said  that  such  states  struggling  into 
existence  have  a  right  to  be  recognized  as  belligerents  when 
their  organization  and  means  enable  them  to  carry  on  regular 
warfare,  and  they  are  in  actual  conflict  with  their  parent  states. 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  259 

It  is  not  only  a  concession  on  the  part  of  the  neutral,  but  it  is 
obligatory  upon  the  neutral,  to  recognize  them.  Our  author 
objects  to  this  language,  but  thinks  that  recognition  has  been 
sanctioned  in  such  cases  by  the  practice  and  opinion  of  nations, 
not  solely  with  a  view  to  the  protection  of  the  neutral,  but 
on  wider  grounds  of  general  expediency.  The  application  of 
the  ordinary  rules  of  war  to  civil  conflicts  makes  them  more 
humane  and  regular,  and  restricts  the  sphere  of  their  injury. 
Hence  he  is  willing  to  adopt  the  rule,  that  recognition  of  bel 
ligerency  ought  not  to  be  withheld,  as  being  on  the  whole  an 
advantage  to  the  world. 

Here,  while  we  agree  with  our  author  in  his  doctrine  as  it  re 
spects  recognition  of  belligerency,  we  are  constrained  to  make 
one  or  two  qualifying  remarks.  The  first  is  that  no  rule  of  inter 
national  law  forces  a  neutral  state  into  an  impartial  attitude  be 
tween  two  such  belligerents.  It  has  its  choice  between  aiding  the 
parent  or  already  existing  state  and  entire  neutrality.  Alliances 
have  existed  between  two  sovereignties,  stipulating  the  integrity 
of  each  other,  and  such  treaties  are  considered  lawful.  In  such 
cases  there  is  a  positive  obligation  to  assist  a  state  against  a 
rebellion  aiming  at  its  political  life.  But  the  principle  is  the 
same  when,  after  the  outbreak  of  a  rebellion,  a  state  oifers  its 
assistance  to  another.  It  is  assistance,  not  against  a  state 
known  to  nations,  but  against  a  nondescript  thing  which  has  as 
yet  force  and  not  law  on  its  side,  against  a  monster,  out  of  the 
pale  as  yet  of  the  law  of  nations,  and  which  threatens  the  order 
of  the  world.  It  may  grow  into  the  proportions  which  civil 
order  can  protect  and  recognize,  but  it  is  well  for  human  quiet 
if  it  fight  its  way  into  political  existence  by  itself.  Interna 
tional  law  is  made  for  nations,  and  sides  with  the  established 
condition  of  things.  It  does  not  frown  on  help  offered  by  one 
friendly  state  to  another,  and  yet  it  allows  states  to  sit  still 
and  see  their  friends  fight  their  own  battles.  It  frowns  on  the 
two  extremes  of  aiding  in  the  disruption  of  a  state,  and  of 
refusing  to  speak  or  even  to  act  when  gross  inhumanity  is 
practised  towards  rebels. 

Another  remark  which  ought  to  be  made  here  relates  to  the 
length  of  time  during  which  this  rule  of  belligerency  has  been 
maintained  in  civil  wars,  and  particularly  in  those  which  may 


260  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.          [Oct. 

be  called  wars  of  disruption.  -  There  is  no  old  precedent  for  or 
against  the  rule,  if  we  are  not  in  a  grievous  error.  The  coun 
tenance  given  by  England  to  the  Netherlands  in  their  war  with 
Philip  is  not  one,  for  Elizabeth  played  fast  and  loose  in  her 
foreign  relations  as  suited  the  policy  of  the  moment,  furnishing 
ground  for  war  by  proceedings  beyond  the  limits  of  neutrality  ; 
moveover,  the  war  in  the  Low  Countries  was  not  a  civil  war  ; 
the  feudal  prince  of  the  Burgundian  provinces  was  also  king  of 
Spain,  and  the  war  centred  in  the  person  of  the  Suzerain  ;  it  had 
little  to  do  with  the  remote  state  where  he  was  king.  We  be 
lieve  that  there  is  no  other  precedent  earlier  than  the  time  of  our 
Revolution.  The  attitude  of  France  during  that  struggle  is  well 
known.  From  half-concealed  and  yet  disavowed  assistance  of 
our  cause,  the  king,  not  long  after  Burgoyne's  capitulation, 
jumped  into  recognition  of  the  United  States,  and  this,  as  it  was 
expected,  brought  on  war  with  Great  Britain.  Infos  justifying 
memorial  which  Gibbon  wrote,  much  is  said  of  breach  of 
treaties  on  the  part  of  France  in  aiding  the  rebellion  of  the  Col 
onies,  but  the  views  of  international  law  there  expressed  are 
vague  and  indefinite.  The  "  Observations  "  of  the  Court  of 
Versailles,  in  reply,  contain  the  modern  doctrine  in  tolerably 
clear  words.  "  It  results,"  it  is  there  said,  "  from  the  stipula 
tions  of  the  treaty  of  Utrecht,  that  the  king  was  not  obliged 
to  forbid  his  subjects,  relatively  to  America,  to  trade  either  in 
merchandise  not  prohibited  or  in  contraband  of  war,  and  that 
the  only  obligation  imposed  on  him  was  not  to  protect  this  latter 
species  of  commerce.  To  put  this  truth  in  its  full  light,  we 
may  consider  the  United  States  under  two  different  points  of 
view,  —  as  subjects  of  Great  Britain,  and  as  an  independent 
nation.  On  the  first  hypothesis,  they  are  subject  to  the  pro 
hibitory  laws  of  their  mother  country.  They  are  forbidden  to 
have  direct  commerce  with  any  country  except  England ;  but 
how  can  this  prohibition,  which  is  merely  domestic,  be  extended 
to  strangers  ?  ....  It  was  thus  that  the  court  of  London  itself 
judged  in  regard  to  this  point  in  the  difficulties  which  it  had 
with  the  court  of  Madrid,  and  which  led  to  the  treaty  of  Pardo. 
....  If,  on  the  contrary,  we  regard  the  Americans  as  an 
independent  nation,  or,  if  the  expression  pleases  better,  as  a 
nation  with  which  England  is  at  war,  then  neutral  nations  have 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  261 

no  other  obligations  to  fulfil  save  such  as  usages  or  treaties  im 
pose  on  them.  Those  which  France  has  been  bound  to  recog 
nize  are  expressed  in  the  articles  nineteen  and  twenty  of  the 
treaty  of  Utrecht.  The  arrangements  contained  in  those  ar 
ticles  authorize  commerce  in  merchandise  which  is  not  prohib 
ited,  and  they  do  not  require  the  king  to  forbid  his  subjects  to 
convey  arms  and  munitions  of  war  to  the  enemies  of  Great 
Britain.  They  simply  say  that  ships  thus  loaded,  if  met  even 
on  the  high  sea,  may  be  stopped  and  declared  good  prize  of 


war." 


The  relations  of  England  and  Holland,  at  the  same  epoch, 
became  more  and  more  complicated,  until  they  terminated  in 
war.  Among  other  alleged  grievances,  Paul  Jones  carried  two 
English  vessels  into  the  Texel.  The  British  government  de 
manded  these  vessels,  on  the  ground  that  they  were  captured 
"  by  a  subject  of  the  king,  who,  according  to  treaties  and  the  laws 
of  war,  fell  into  the  class  of  rebels  and  pirates."  The  States- 
General  refused  to  give  up  the  vessels,  but  declared  that  they 
had  given  orders  not  to  furnish  the  cruiser  with  munitions  of 
war  or  with  other  things,  except  such  as  he  needed  in  order  to 
set  sail  and  reach  the  nearest  port  where  entrance  would  not 
be  refused  to  him.  In  the  course  of  the  discussion,  Sir  Joseph 
Yorke,  the  British  ambassador,  remarks  that  "  the  directions 
of  the  States- General,  when  they  require  captains  of  foreign 
armed  vessels  to  exhibit  their  letters  of  marque  or  commis 
sion,  give  authority,  according  to  the  general  usage  of  ad 
miralties,  for  treating  as  pirates  those  whose  letters  are  per 
ceived  to  be  unlawful,  as  not  emanating  from  a  sovereign 
power."  * 

The  same  claim  that  the  flag  of  the  rebellious  colonies 
could  not  be  respected  by  neutrals  was  brought  forward  when 
the  same  sea-king,  Paul  Jones,  carried  three  prizes  into  a  port 
of  Norway.  The  king  of  Denmark  delivered  them  up,  but  the 
act  gave  rise  to  reclamations  and  demands  on  our  part  which 
ran  through  more  than  sixty  years. 

*  See  especially  De  Marten's  Nouvdles  Causes  Ctfebres,  Tome  I.  Cause  2,  p. 
1.^4,  and  Cause  4,  pp.  492-495.  For  the  prizes  taken  into  a  port  of  Norway,  see  the 
brief  exposition  of  Mr.  Lawrence  iu  his  new  French  Commentary  on  Wheaton,  I. 
176-17& 


262  British  Neutrality  during  the.  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

It  thus  appears  that  Great  Britain  at  that  time  denied  the 
present  doctrine  expounded  by  Professor  Bernard,  and  now  ad 
mitted  probably  by  common  consent  over  the  world,  while 
France  and  Holland  received  it.  The  doctrine  was  sanctioned 
at  a  subsequent  time  by  our  government  through  the  whole 
history  of  the  struggle  between  Spain  and  her  South  American 
colonies.  Our  memory  of  our  own  claims  in  the  Revolutionary 
War,  the  natural  tendencies  of  thought  of  a  nation  almost 
always  neutral,  and  a  most  pardonable  sympathy  with  the 
Spanish  Americans  in  the  effort  to  emancipate  themselves  from 
a  foreign  and  unacceptable  dominion,  not  only  induced  us  to 
take  a  neutral  position  between  Spain  and  her  colonies,  but 
made  it  seem  right  that  moral  support  should  be  given  to  the 
revolters  in  public  messages  of  the  President  to  Congress. 
"  It  was  natural,"  says  President  Monroe,  "  that  our  citizens 
should  sympathize  in  events  which  affected  our  neighbors"; 
and  his  own  sympathy  comes  to  the  surface  more  than  once  in 
mention  made  of  the  successes  of  the  insurgents  and  in  hopes 
that  Spain  might  be  induced  to  give  up  the  contest. 

In  a  recent  message  of  President  Grant  touching  the  affairs 
of  Cuba,  which,  we  think,  the  country  has  cordially  approved, 
the  rule  which  has  controlled  the  action  of  the  government 
with  reference  to  a  revolting  country  pending  its  struggle  is 
expressed  in  the  following  words  of  Mr.  Monroe :  "  As  soon  as 
the  movement  assumes  such  a  steady  and  consistent  form  as 
to  make  the  success  of  the  provinces  probable,  the  rights  to 
which  they  were  entitled  by  the  laws  of  nations,  as  equal  par 
ties  to  a  civil  war,  were  extended  to  them."  We  doubt 
whether  these  words  express  the  rule  on  which  either  the 
United  States  or  any  other  modern  civilized  nation  has  acted, 
and  still  more  whether  this  can  be  made  the  basis  of  a  rational 
policy.  Steadiness  and  consistency  alone,  however  gre"at  in 
degree,  do  not  make  success  probable ;  it  cannot  be  said  that 
the  laws  of  nations  entitle  any  community  which  is  not  yet  a 
state  to  any  rights  as  a  state,  or  to  any  treatment  except  that 
dictated  by  humanity ;  and  it  would  be  harsh  in  the  extreme 
to  deny  to  ari  oppressed  people  fighting  for  self-government  the 
right  (if  so  it  is  to  be  called)  of  belligerency,  because  their 
cause  appears  to  be  becoming  hopeless.  So  much  as  this  is 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  263 

true,  that  we  have  not  favored,  and  ought  not  to  favor,  rash  and 
mad  revolts,  sympathy  with  which  may  greatly  increase  the 
woes  of  such  as  engage  in  them ;  but  we  believe  that  if  the 
revolt  has  an  organized  government,  the  machinery  of  war,  the 
spirit  of  persistence,  and  is  carrying  on  a  bellam  justum  by  land 
or  sea,  the  weight  in  the  other  side  of  the  scale  would  hardly 
be  taken  into  account.  In  other  words,  only  the  fact  of  war,  as 
distinguished  from  insurrection  or  sedition,  is  to  be  looked  at 
by  third  parties.  Still  less,  if  the  side  of  the  old  government 
appeared  to  be  prevailing,  would  it  consist  with  the  views  of 
the  present  age  to  deny  belligerent  rights  to  the  rebels,  until 
they  had  been  thoroughly  crushed.  Mr.  Monroe,  in  his  mes 
sage  of  1819,  expresses  the  opinion  that  if  it  should  "become 
manifest  to  the  world  that  the  efforts  of  Spain  to  subdue  her 
provinces  will  be  fruitless,  it  may  be  presumed  that  the  Span 
ish  government  itself  will  give  up  the  contest."  It  was  then 
not  yet  manifest  that  their  efforts  would  be  successful.  How 
much  probability  is  needed  to  concede  belligerency  to  revolt  ? 
"We  should  rather  say  that,  as  long  as  the  characteristics  of 
such  a  movement  make  its  success  improbable,  it  would  not  be 
•wise  nor  right  to  regard  rebels  as  equal  parties  in  war  with  an 
existing  state,  nor  to  treat  them  as  having  formed  a  state  de 
facto,  when  this  is  not  warranted  by  the  facts. 

There  is  a  special  point  of  some  importance  to  which  Pro 
fessor  Bernard  calls  attention.  A  person  making  war  against 
a  government  which  has  a  claim  to  his  allegiance  is  without 
doubt  a  rebel ;  but  is  he  properly  called  a  pirate  or  justly 
treated  as  such,  when  captured  on  the  ocean.  The  English 
called  Paul  Jones  a  pirate  ;  and  in  the  late  war,  William  Smith, 
one  of  the  crew  of  the  Jeff.  Davis,  was  convicted  of  piracy  in 
one  of  our  courts.  The  crime  of  a  pirate  may  be  tried  in  any 
court,  and  his  ship  is  not  the  ship  of  any  nation.  The  motive 
of  a  pirate  is  plunder,  but  a  cruiser  of  a  rebellious  state  or 
province  is  only  endeavoring  to  distress  his  enemy  in  the  way 
of  armed  contest,  and  so  to  conquer  a  peace.  The  pirate  is  an 
enemy  of  mankind,  but  the  cruiser  of  a  rebellious  territory  is 
the  enemy  of  a  particular  state  and  of  those  who  trade  with  it 
against  the  laws  of  war.  The  offended  state,  if  it  catches  him, 
may  call  him  traitor  or  pirate  at  its  pleasure,  but,  as  Mr.  Ber- 


264  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

nard  asks,  would  the  animus  be/Iig-eranJi,  which  is  his  motive, 
constitute  the  legal  offence  of  piracy  in  the  view  of  the  tribu 
nals  of  a  country  the  executive  government  of  which  had  not 
recognized  the  existence  of  war  ?  And  in  one  particular  case 
an  argumentum  ad  hominem  may  be  pressed,  which  our  author 
politely  passes  by,  that  if  the  crew  of  the  Savannah  or  of  the 
Jeff.  Davis  were  pirates,  Paul  Jones  was  equally  so,  and  there 
fore  the  Dutch  were  wrong  in  refusing  to  restore  his  prizes  to 
Great  Britain,  and  Denmark  was  right  in  surrendering  them. 

The  next  chapters  of  Professor  Bernard's  work  are  devoted 
to  the  course  pursued  by  European  governments  at  the  begin" 
ning  of  our  war,  and  especially  to  the  queen's  proclamation  of 
neutrality.  Into  the  vexed  question  whether  this  public  act 
was  premature  and  at  the  time  unnecessary  or  not,  we  shall 
not  enter.  It  was  issued  two  days  after  Mr.  Dallas  had  offi 
cially  made  known  Mr.  Lincoln's  proclamation  of  blockade,  and 
eleven  days  after  the  first  news  of  that  measure  reached  Lon 
don.  If  measured  by  the  precedents,  whether  of  Europe  or  of 
the  United  States,  it  was  entirely  legal  and  proper.  In  pla 
cing  the  two  parties  to  the  war  on  an  equality,  it  followed  the 
uniform  rule  of  our  government ;  and  if  the  proclamation  of 
Mr.  Yan  Buren,  in  1838,  could  be  styled,  as  it  was,  a  proclama 
tion  "  for  the  prevention  of  unlawful  interference  in  the  civil 
war  in  Canada,"  when  no  civil  or  military  organization  had 
been  set  up,  much  more  might  this  British  proclamation  speak 
of  hostilities  as  existing,  after  the  fall  of  Sumter,  and  after 
the  announcement  of  a  war  measure  like  blockade,  between  the 
United  States  and  an  organized,  united  community  like  the 
States  styling  themselves  the  Confederate  States  of  Amer 
ica.  It  was  followed  in  a  large  part  of  Europe,  and  even 
in  the  Hawaiian  Islands,  by  notifications  which  prohibited  all 
interference  in  the  war,  especially  the  construction  of  priva 
teers  for  either  party,  and  the  entrance  of  the  war  vessels  of 
either  party  into  the  harbors  of  the  respective  nations,  except 
for  a  transitory  purpose. 

In  his  first  instructions  to  the  ambassadors  at  foreign  courts 
Mr.  Seward  insisted  on  neutrality,  and  this  neutrality  could 
only  be  understood  as  "  neutrality  in  a  civil  war  between  par 
ties  nearly  equal,  having  as  to  neutral  powers  equal  rights," 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  265 

at  least  such  was  neutrality  in  the  parallel  case  of  the  South 
American  provinces,  as  understood  by  Mr.  Monroe,  and  such 
the  neutrality  allowed  to  us  by  Europe  in  our  Revolutionary 
times.  When  in  June,  1861,  the  British  orders  prohibited 
armed  vessels  of  either  party  from  carrying  their  prizes  into 
waters  governed  by  British  law  Mr.  Seward  seemed  satisfied, 
and  said  that  "  it  would  probably  prove  a  death-blow  to  South 
ern  privateering."  But  soon  a  change  of  feeling  and  of  policy 
appeared  at  Washington.  The  queen's  proclamation  was 
hasty,  and  was  dictated  by  a  hostile  spirit.  Moral  support  had 
been  given  to  .the  Confederacy,  which  had  inspired  even  the 
hope  of  speedy  recognition.  But  the  United  States  ought  not 
to  be  considered  as  an  equal  party  with  the  Confederacy.  We 
could  not  regard  the  contest  within  our  borders  as  a  war,  and 
we  should  treat  Confederate  privateersmen  as  pirates.  Mr. 
Dayton  was  instructed  to  say  to  the  French  government  that  the 
United  States  could  not  for  a  moment  allow  that  government 
to  rest  under  the  belief  that  they  would  be  content  to  have  the 
Confederate  States  recognized  as  a  belligerent  power  by  nations 
with  which  we  were  at  amity.  And  long  afterwards,  when  the 
country  had  become  thoroughly  alienated  in  mind  from  Great 
Britain,  by  the  want  of  sympathy  there  with  our  cause,  or  by 
sympathy  with  the  Confederates,  the  queen's,  proclamation 
was  charged  with  being  the  fountain  of  our  evils,  it  gave 
ground  for  damages,  and  was  a  virtual  act  of  war.  It  is  im 
possible  now  for  any  cool  person  to  admit  the  justice  of  these 
assertions.  Either  the  blockade  imposed  by  the  President, 
and  supported  by  an  armed  force,  was  to  be  received  as  a  fact 
by  the  British  government,  or,  as  they  claimed,  their  vessels 
still  had  the  right  to  trade  with  Southern  ports,  which  were  not 
under  the  fiscal  control  of  the  United  States.  The  blockade 
implied  a  state  of  war ;  such  was  the  judgment  of  the 
courts.  Mr.  Seward  indeed  says  with  truth,  that  the  Presi 
dent  did  not  in  form  declare  the  existence  of  war,  and  that  the 
courts  reached  their  conclusion  that  a  state  of  war  was  then 
existing  by  a  process  of  reason  and  argument.  But  it  is  of 
no  importance  what  name  the  President  gave  to  the  state  of 
things ;  if  he  had  called  it  a  difficulty  or  a  sedition  until  the 
capture  of  Richmond,  or  until  the  surrender  of  Johnston's 


266  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

army,  this  would  not  have  altered  the  facts  of  the  case.  The 
Supreme  Court  looked  at  the  facts,  and  found  that  they  came 
within  the  definition  of  war  from  the  time  of  the  blockade. 
The  foreign  courts  did  the  same  ;  and  their  agreement  in  their 
conclusion  is  proof  that  they  both  were  right. 

We  come  thus  nearly  to  Mr.  Bernard's  conclusion,  which  we 
give  in  his  own  words :  "  I  am  unable  to  comprehend  how  it 
could  be  premature  to  provide  for  a  state  of  circumstances 
which  was  actually  existing  at  the  time,  or  precipitate  to 
announce  in  May  a  conclusion  on  which  the  President  had 
begun  to  act  in  April ;  ....  or  how  the  British  government 
could  be  held  justly  answerable  for  the  chimeras  raised  in 
sanguine  imaginations  by  an  act  which  was  itself  lawful  and 
reasonable."  If  a  hostile  mind  dictated  an  act  not  unlawful 
in  itself,  let  that  go  for  what  it  is  worth ;  let  it  awaken  the 
indignation  of  the  country,  let  that  indignation  seize  its  fair 
chance  of  retaliation  in  parallel  circumstances,  if  it  must  be 
so  ;  but  let  us  not  try  to  overthrow  international  law,  or  to 
parry  its  force  by  charges  of  evil  intention. 

Mr.  Bernard  passes  on  to  the  offer  made  by  the  American 
government,  early  in  the  war,  to  accede  to  the  treaty  of  Paris. 
The  British  and  French  ministers  refused  to  negotiate  in  this 
matter,  except  on  the  understanding  that  it  was  to  have  no 
bearing  whatever  on  the  Southern  difficulty,  and  so  the  nego 
tiation  fell  to  the  ground.  It  is  obvious  that  they  were  obliged 
either  to  take  this  position  or  to  desert  their  existing  position 
of  neutrality  in  our  civil  contest.  The  engagement,  as  they 
understood  it,  would,  if  made,  merely  prevent  the  established 
government  of  the  United  States  from  issuing  letters  of 
marque  to  privateers ;  it  could  have  no  effect  on  the  legal  rela 
tions  of  privateersmen  belonging  to  the  Southern  Confederacy, 
because  they  were  already  de  facto  belligerents,  and  acknowl 
edged  as  such.  Mr.  Seward  was  not  willing  to  bind  the  United 
States,  without  securing  the  advantage  of  putting  an  end  to 
Southern  privateering,  without,  in  short,  including  them  in  the 
negotiation. 

The  chapter  on  the  case  of  the  Trent  is  one  where  at  present 
there  will  be  little  difference  of  opinion.  Our  government 
honorably  admitted  the  mistake  of  its  naval  officer,  and  gained 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  267 

character  by  so  doing  with  foreign  powers.  Mr.  Bernard,  after 
giving  in  detail  the  history  of  this  case,  states  certain  proposi 
tions,  of  which  we  quote  the  last :  "  It  is  not  lawful  on  the 
high  seas  to  take  persons,  whatever  their  character,  as  pris 
oners,  out  of  a  neutral  ship,  which  has  not  been  judicially 
proved  to  have  forfeited  the  benefit  of  her  neutral  character." 

It  is  certain,  from  Mr.  Bernard's  expressed  opinion,  that  the 
official  appointment  of  the  persons  taken  from  the  Trent,  as 
envoys  of  the  Confederate  government,  would  not,  from  his 
point  of  view,  affect  the  case.  So  much  the  more  surprised  are 
we  to  find  in  the  work  of  another  Oxford  professor,  Dr.  Travers 
Twiss,  published  in  1863,  the  following  judgment.  He  is  speak 
ing  of  the  arrest  of  Marshal  Belleisle  on  hostile  territory  by  a 
power  at  war  with  his  country :  "  It  is  quite  another  thing, 
observes  Grotius,  if  any  prince  shall,  out  of  his  territory,  con 
trive  to  surprise  the  ambassadors  of  another  state,  for  this 
would  be  a  direct  breach  of  the  law  of  nations.  The  case  of 
the  seizure  of  the  envoys  of  the  Confederate  States  of  America 
on  their  way  to  Europe  on  board  the  British  post-office  packet, 
the  Trent,  by  an  United  States  cruiser,  would  seem  to  come 
within  the  prohibition  laid  down  by  Grotius.  Their  seizure 
was  justly  resented  by  Great  Britain  as  a  direct  breach  of  the 
law  of  nations,  and  the  envoys,  at  the  demand  of  the  British 
government,  were  set  at  liberty  by  the  government  of  the 
United  States,  and  allowed  to  proceed  to  Europe  in  a  British 
vessel." 

These  words  would  seem  to  imply  that  the  British  govern 
ment  demanded  back  the  arrested  passengers  on  the  ground 
of  their  public  character.  But  such  we  do  not  find  to  be  the 
fact.  They  are  u  certain  individuals  "  in  Lord  RusselPs  de- 
sp%atch,  "deux  passagers"  in  M.  ThouvenePs  ;  and  in  the  vari 
ous  remonstrances  which  at  the  same  time  came  from  other 
courts  of  Europe  no  stress  is  laid  on  their  function.  Besides, 
with  submission,  we  affirm  that  the  law  of  nations  is  misinter 
preted.  Grotius,  if  Dr.  Twiss  had  looked  a  little  further,  would 
have  told  him  that  the  rights  of  legation,  of  which  the  father 
of  international  law  is  speaking,  are.  confined  to  persons  sent 
by  sovereigns  to  each  other.  And  another  great  authority, 
with  whom  he  must  be  familiar,  would  have  informed  him  that 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  229.  18 


268  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.          [Oct. 

when  Philip  II.  of  Spain  imprisoned  and  finally  put  to  death 
the  noblemen  from  the  Netherlands,  sent  to  him  as  deputies 
from  a  revolted  territory,  it  was  no  offence  against  the  law  of 
nations.* 

The  blockade  of  the  Southern  ports,  and  questions  which 
grew  out  of  it,  occupy  several  chapters  of  Mr.  Bernard's  work. 
In  regard  to  its  general  conformity  with  the  rules  of  naval 
warfare,  he  expresses  himself  as  follows :  — 

"  The  blockade  of  the  Southern  coasts  was  certainly  not  free  from 
irregularities,  nor  was  it  efficient  at  all  points  ;  it  was  instituted  before 
the  government  had  a  competent  blockading  force  in  readiness  ;  it 
covered,  nominally,  more  ground  than  the  force  could  really  occupy ; 
and  at  more  than  one  place  it  was  intermitted  and  resumed  without 
notice.  The  British  government  was  right,  however,  in  forbearing  to 
insist  on  these  defects  as  grounds  of  complaint.  The  commencement  of 
a  blockade  is  seldom  free  from  difficulties,  and  this  had  some  peculiar 
difficulties.  The  government  of  the  United  States  was  exerting  itself 
to  overcome  them,  and  had  every  motive  to  exertion.  Credit  should  be 
given  to  blockading  officers  for  reasonable  activity  and  vigilance,  until 
the  contrary  is  shown.  If  irregularities  can  be  proved,  recourse  may 
be  had  to  a  prize  court,  which  will  decree  restitution,  and,  unless  they 
are  manifest  and  long  continued,  or  appeals  to  the  tribunals  of  the  bel 
ligerent  be  met  by  a  plain  denial  of  justice,  the  neutral  government 
will  act  wisely  and  properly  in  not  taking  the  matter  into  its  own 
hands." 

The  question  whether  a  blockade  is  effective  is  one  of  degrees. 
If  a  single  vessel  runs  it  in  a  week,  and  ten  are  taken,  there  is 
evidently  a  very  great  risk  in  the  case.  If  only  every  other 
vessel  is  taken,  there  is  still  risk,  but  is  it  effective  ?  The  dec 
laration  of  Paris  only  increases  the  difficulties  which  a  good 
definition  ought  to  remove,  when  it  says  that  a  blockade,  "  in 
order  to  be  valid,  must  be  effective,  that  is  to  say,  maintained 
by  a  force  sufficient  really  to  prevent  access  to  the  coast  of  the 
enemy."  If,  then,  a  number  of  vessels  in  the  course  of  a 
year's  blockade  do  get  access  to  the  enemy's  port,  shall  we  say 
that  the  blockade  is  no  longer  effective  ?  The  vagueness,  we 

*  Grotius,  II.  1 8,  §  2, 1,  says,  "  Qui  extra  hos  legati  sunt,  provinciates,  municipals 
atque  alii,  non  jure  gentium,  quod  inter  gentes  est  diversas,  sed  jure  civili  reguntur." 
See  also  Bynkershoek,  Quest.  Juris.  Publ.  II.  cap.  3. 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  269 

should  answer,  is  essential  to  the  subject.  No  blockade  can 
keep  out  all  the  vessels  that  attempt  to  enter  a  port,  if  the  prof 
its  of  voyages  rise  at  all  in  proportion  with  the  risk.  The  dif 
ficulty  of  putting  an  end  to  blockade-running  is  increased,  as 
Mr.  Bernard  remarks,  by  the  introduction  of  steam  navigation 
into  modern  warfare,  which,  while  it  gives  greater  scope  and 
alertness  to  a  blockading  squadron,  aids  in  a  far  higher  degree 
the  newest  kind  of  blockade-runners,  made  for  high  speed, 
drawing  little  water,  yet  not  deficient  in  stowage. 

The  number  of  vessels  that  ran  the  blockade  led  the  Confed 
erate  emissary,  Mason,  to  the  hope  that  he  could  persuade  the 
British  government  to  pronounce  the  blockade  ineffective.  His 
long  lists  of  such  fortunate  vessels,  however,  produced  no  effect. 
The  reply  was  that  the  declaration  of  Paris  was  directed  against 
paper  blockades,  that  is,  against  such  as  are  not  sustained  by 
any  actual  force,  or  sustained  by  a  notoriously  inadequate  force, 
such  as  the  occasional  appearance  of  a  man-of-war  in  the  offing ; 
that  the  adequacy  of  the  blockading  force  must  be  a  matter  of 
fact  and  evidence,  and  that  the  ineffectiveness  of  the  blockade 
had  not  been  urged  in  prize  cases  before  the  American  courts  ; 
and  that  practical  effectiveness  was  what  was  intended  in  the 
declaration. 

It  was  an  Herculean  task  for  our  government  in  the  first 
years  of  the  war  to  create  a  navy  adequate  to  the  work  of 
blockade,  and  to  that  of  scouring  the  seas  in  the  protection  of 
commerce  and  the  pursuit  of  hostile  cruisers.  The  thought 
occurred  to  some  one  that,  if  one  or  more  of  the  channels  into 
Charleston  Harbor  could  be  blocked  up  with  stones,  some  of 
the  ships  employed  there  might  be  spared  for  other  service. 
This  experiment  was  tried  both  there  and  at  Savannah.  The 
main  channel  at  Charleston  received  the  stone-ships  with  their 
contents,  but  the  obstruction  did  not  pay  for  the  trouble.  We 
should  not  refer  to  this  abortive  attempt  to  supplement  the 
blockade,  if  it  had  not  been  made  the  subject  of  something  like 
remonstrances  on  the  part  of  the  British  government,  as  being 
injurious  to  the  general  and  permanent  interests  of  commerce. 
Mr.  Seward,  in  reply  to  the  British  ambassador,  declared  that 
it  was  a  temporary  measure,  and  that  it  would  be  incumbent 
on  the  United  States  to  remove  the  obstructions  as  soon  as  the 
Union  should  be  restored. 


270  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

This  is  a  good  example  of  the  way  in  which  neutral  power 
or  the  interests  of  commerce  are  advancing  in  their  claims  in 
the  most  modern  period  against  war  power.  But  were  the 
claims  just  ?  We  think  not.  If  I  have  a  right  to  cripple  my 
enemy  by  bombarding  and  demolishing  a  town  where  neutral 
trade  may  have  flourished,  why  may  I  not  obstruct  a  harbor  ? 
Why  not  render  the  port  of  Charleston  inaccessible  as  well  as 
cannonade  the  city  ?  If  it  had  disappeared  from  the  face  of 
the  earth,  there  were  other  and  better  sites  for  trade  not  far 
off.  Besides,  a  clear  precedent  is  afforded  for  such  obstruc 
tions  of  ports  by  the  case  of  Dunkirk,  the  harbor  of  which,  by 
the  treaty  of  Utrecht,  was  to  be  stopped  up  and  rendered  unfit 
for  commerce,  and  remained  in  its  condition  of  uselessness 
until  the  peace  of  Paris,  in  1783.  When  Louis  XIV.,  just  after 
the  peace  of  Utrecht,  proposed  to  evade  the  terms  of  the  treaty 
by  digging  out  the  port  of  Mardik,  near  Dunkirk,  and  connect 
ing  it  with  the  sea  by  a  channel  sixteen  hundred  toises  long, 
he  was  led  to  abandon  the  project  in  consequence  of  the  pro 
tests  of  the  British  government.  Every  new  treaty  between 
France  and  Great  Britain  repeated  the  stipulations  in  regard 
to  this  port.  What  treaty  can  do  the  force  of  war  can  do,  for 
neutral  interests  are  affected  in  both  instances  alike.  And  in 
the  case  of  Dunkirk,  it  is  to  be  added  that  the  commercial 
jealousy  of  England  and  Holland  was  the  principal  motive  for 
insisting  on  the  destruction  of  the  harbor,  and  not  apprehension 
of  expeditions  that  might  proceed  from  it  to  annoy  the  coasts 
of  England  ;  while  our  motive  was  simply  the  restoration  of  the 
Union  in  the  way  of  regular  war.* 

The  high  price  of  cotton  in  Great  Britain,  and  the  want  in 
the  South,  not  only  of  munitions  of  war,  but  of  many  articles 
of  comfort  or  necessity  which  formerly  came  from  the  Northern 
States,  gave  great  activity  to  blockade-running,  and  in  partic 
ular  the  harbor  of  Nassau  was  crowded  with  vessels  using  it  as 
an  entrepot  bet  ween  Great  Britain  and  the  Southern  coasts. 
Nor  were  there  merchants  wanting  in  New  York  who  were 

*  This  was  written  before  the  news  came  to  this  country  that  the  Prussians  are 
stopping  up  harbors  in  North  Germany,  and  that,  it  would  appear,  on  a  large  scale. 
We  doubt  whether  any  neutral  will  complain  of  this ;  and  we  feel  certain  that,  if 
any  complaints  are  made,  they  will  be  treated  as  being  entirely  groundless. 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  271 

ready  to  send  to  that  port  articles  intended  for  the  blockaded 
districts  of  the  Confederate  States.  To  prevent  this  evil,  a  law 
of  May,  1862,  gave  power  to  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  to 
refuse  clearance  to  any  vessel  whenever  he  had  good  reason  to 
believe  that  the  goods  on  board  of  it,  whatever  was  their  osten 
sible  destination,  were  intended  for  places  in  possession  or 
under  the  control  of  insurgents  against  the  United  States.  The 
collectors  of  customs  also  were  authorized,  when  they  thought 
it  necessary,  to  exact  bonds  from  masters  or  owners  that  car 
goes  should  be  delivered  at  the  place  specified  in  the  clearance, 
and  that  no  part  of  the  goods  should  be  used  "  in  affording  aid 
or  comfort  to  any  persons  or  parties  in  insurrection  against 
the  authority  of  the  United  States." 

These  stringent  requirements  cut  off,  to  a  great  extent,  com 
merce  with  the  port  of  Nassau,  and  complaints  arose  on  the 
part  of  merchants  there,  which  were  supported  by  the  British 
government.  It  was  urged  that  the  refusal  of  clearances  to 
vessels  laden  with  ordinary  articles  of  peace  was  an  injury  to 
the  neutral,  and  an  infraction  of  treaties ;  that  it  really  dis 
criminated  to  the  disadvantage  of  British  merchants  ;  and  that 
the  most  arbitrary  restrictions  could  thus  be  imposed  on  British 
trade.  The  United  States  government  denied  any  such  inten 
tion  to  injure  the  trade  of  any  neutral ;  a  relaxation  of  the  order 
was  allowed  in  respect  to  the  exportation  of  coal ;  and  the 
necessities  of  the  case  were  pleaded  as  a  reason  for  the  act  of 
Congress  and  the  orders  of  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury.  Mr. 
Bernard  decides  that  the  act  and  the  instructions  violated  no 
rule  of  international  law,  and  were  no  infraction  of  our  treaties 
with  Great  Britain.  "  A  neutral  port"  —  we  quote  his  words — 
"  in  the  neighborhood  of  one  which  a  belligerent  is  actively 
blockading  is  ascertained  to  be  carrying  on  a  busy  trade  with 
the  blockaded  port,  to  afford  a  shelter  and  rendezvous  for  the 
ships  employed  in  that  trade,  and  a  depot  for  their  cargoes.  Is 
the  belligerent  bound  to  permit  goods  to  be  despatched  from  his 
own  ports,  under  his  own  eyes,  to  swell  the  stores  of  that  depot  ? 
Is  he  bound  to  abstain  from  enforcing  in  his  own  ports  regula 
tions  by  which  this  may  be  checked  and  thwarted  ?  and  is  he 
disabled  from  making  such  regulations  by  the  circumstance 
that,  under  a  general  clause  in  a  treaty  of  commerce,  there  is 


272  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

to  be  reciprocal  freedom  of  trade  between  the  people  of  the 
neutral  country  and  his  own,  subject  to  the  laws  of  the  two 
countries  ?  This  would  not,  I  think,  be  a  reasonable  construc 
tion  of  the  treaty."  In  truth,  if  a  belligerent  in  a  civil  war 
could  not,  for  his  self-preservation,  make  regulations  cutting 
off  a  roundabout  trade  between  his  own  ports  and  blockaded 
ones,  it  would  take  but  one  step  more  to  refuse  him  the  right 
of  blockading  in  such  a  war  altogether ;  for  prior  treaties  of 
commerce  opened  his  whole  territory  to  neutrals,  whom  he 
now  seeks  to  exclude  from  entrance  into  certain  harbors  which 
he  claims  to  be  his  own. 

Owing  to  the  proximity  of  a  port  like  Nassau  to  our  South 
ern  coast,  the  subject  of  continuous  voyages  came  before  our 
courts,  audit  received  an  extension  greater,  perhaps,  than  had 
ever  been  given  to  it  before.  According  to  a  view  of  the  Eng 
lish  courts  which  was  admitted  by  our  own,  if  a  ship  left 
port  with  an  intention  to  break  blockade,  it  was  liable  to  cap 
ture  anywhere  on  the  ocean,  and  the  same  guilt  rested  on  the 
goods,  if  the  owners  were  privy  ito  the  intention.  But  in  the 
late  war,  it  would  easily  occur  to  European  masters  and  owners, 
that  a  neutral  port  in  the  vicinity  of  the  American  coast  was 
a  convenient  depot  from  which  the  goods  might,  in  a  blockade- 
runner  made  for  the  purpose,  be  transshipped  to  the  interdicted 
harbors.  If  the  goods  had  been  conveyed  for  the  purposes  of 
honest  sale  to  Nassau,  there  could  be  no  violation  of  law  in  the 
transaction,  even  though  the  purchaser  were  from  the  Confed 
erate  States ;  a  bona  fide  sale  began  a  new  transaction.  But 
if  an  intention  had  existed  at  the  start  or  on  the  voyage  to  con 
vey  the  goods  to  a  neutral  port  for  the  purpose  of  transshipping 
them  to  a  place  under  blockade,  our  courts  held  that  this  would 
render  both  ship  and  goods  liable  to  capture  and  condemna 
tion, —  the  ship,  provided  the  ulterior  destination  was  the  known 
inducement  to  the  voyage  between  the  two  neutral  ports,  and 
the  goods,  even  although  orders  were  given  by  the  owner  to 
unlade  them.  Indeed,  orders  to  sell  would  not  take  away  guilt, 
unless  the  sale  was  honestly  meant.  In  other  words,  the  trans 
action  was  one  and  the  same,  notwithstanding  the  apparent  in 
terruption,  and  the  "  ships  were  planks  of  the  same  bridge,  all 
necessary  to  the  convenient  passage  of  persons  and  property 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  273 

from  one  and  to  another."  If  a  vessel  could  not  with  impunity 
discharge  her  lading  into  a  blockade-runner  at  the  mouth  of  a 
blockaded  harbor  like  Charleston,  how  could  it  make  any  dif 
ference  if  the  goods  were  transferred  from  ship  to  ship  at  a 
neutral  port  like  Nassau,  or  if  a  fictitious  sale  further  disguised 
the  transaction  ?  Such  was  the  expanded  doctrine  of  "  contin 
uous  voyages,"  as  interpreted  by  our  courts,  which,  doubtless, 
we  should  have  resisted  and  complained  of  sixty  years  ago. 

Another  point  of  interest  which  cama  up  in  the  war  was 
the  liability  to  capture  of  goods  going  up  the  Rio  Grande. 
Where  a  river  separates  two  states,  one  only  of  which  is  en 
gaged  in  war,  there  can,  of  course,  be  no  blockade  of  the  stream 
as  a  whole,  and  thus  there  was  free  access  for  goods  to  Mata- 
moras,  opposite  to  Brownsville.  It  became  early  in  the  war  a 
place  of  great  .trade,  so  that,  as  was  said,  more  than  sixty  ves 
sels  were  cleared  from  New  York  in  little  more  than  a  year, 
having  this  for  their  destination.  Complaints  arose  on  the  part 
of  the  British  government,  when  some  vessels  were  seized  at 
the  mouth  of  the  river  with  contraband  goods  on  board,  osten 
sibly  intended  to  be  sent  up  stream  in  lighters  to  the  Mexican 
town.  The  reply  was,  that  the  vessels  captured  intended  to 
send  their  freights  to  the  insurgents  on  the  American  bank, 
and  that  this  was  a  question  upon  which  a  prize  court  must 
pronounce  a  decision.  The  peculiarity  of  the  cases  of  capture 
on  this  river  seems  to  be  that  the  doctrine  of  ulterior  destina 
tion  was  applied  to  goods  where  the  further  transportation  was 
even  overland,  thus  making  them  liable  to  capture  and  con 
demnation,  no  matter  how  their  ulterior  destination  was  to  be 
reached. 

The  case  of  the  Emily  St.  Pierre,  a  vessel  from  Calcutta,  cap 
tured  in  1862,  not  far  from  the  harbor  of  Charleston,  presents 
a  remarkable  instance  of  the  changes  of  opinion  on  points  of 
international  law  which  changes  of  national  interest  bring  with 
them.  She  was  put  in  charge  of  a  prize  crew  to  be  taken  to 
Philadelphia,  but  those  of  the  captured  crew  who  were  left 
on  board  regained  possession  of  her  and  carried  her  into  Liv 
erpool.  A  claim  was  now  made  by  our  government  for  the  ves 
sel,  on  the  ground  that  the  rescue  was  fraudulent  and  an  act  of 
violence  towards  a  lawful  cruiser.  On  the  British  side  it  was 


274  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

replied  that,  as  the  rights  of  the  owners  had  never  heen  extin 
guished  by  a  prize  court,  to  restore  her  to  her  captors  would  be 
to  take  her  out  of  her  owners'  possession.  This  would  be  to 
enforce  the  rights  of  the  belligerent  to  his  capture, —  a  thing 
with  which  the  municipal  law  of  the  neutral  has  nothing  to  do. 
During  the  correspondence  relating  to  this  vessel,  it  was  dis 
covered  that  a  similar  case  occurred  in  1800,  only  that  the  par 
ties  had  then  taken  positions  just  opposite  to  their  present  ones. 
Great  Britain  then  made  demands  for  the  restoration  of  a  res 
cued  prize,  while  the  United  States  refused  compliance  on  the 
same  grounds  which  Great  Britain  now  urged.  "  There  can  be 
no  doubt,"  says  Professor  Bernard,  "  that  the  American  gov 
ernment  was  right  in  1800,  and  wrong  in  1862,  and  the  Eng 
lish  government  wrong  in  1800  and  right  in  1862.  The  en 
forcement  of  blockades  is  left,  and  rightly  left,  by  the  law  of 
nations  to  the  belligerent  alone.  They  are  enforced  by  the 
exercise  of  the  belligerent  right  of  capture  ;  and  this  right  is  the 
weapon  which  international  law  places  in  his  hands  for  that 
express  purpose.  Capture  is  an  act  of  force  which  has  to  be 
sustained  by  force,  until  the  property  in  the  vessel  has  been 
changed  by  a  sentence  of  condemnation.  If  she  escape  mean 
while  from  the  captor's  hands,  it  is  not  for  the  neutral  to  restore 
her  to  him.  Resistance  or  a  rescue  is  a  distinct  offence,  .... 
drawing  after  it  a  distinct  and  appropriate  penalty, —  confisca 
tion.  But  here  again  it  is  for  the  belligerent  to  inflict  the  pen 
alty,  and  it  is  not  the  business  of  the  neutral  to  help  him  to  do 
this  either  by  recovering  his  prize  for  him  or  by  treating  the 
act  as  a  crime."  If  the  neutral  were  bound  to  do  this,  we 
might  add,  he  could  only  be  bound  by  a  treaty  of  extradition. 

The  latter  part  of  Mr.  Bernard's  work  is  chiefly  occupied 
with  the  subject  of  the  ships  procured  in  England  by  Con 
federate  agents,  and  the  questions  to  which  they  gave  rise. 
The  history  of  all  these  vessels  is  given  with  more  or  less 
detail,  and,  of  course,  the  Alabama  assumes  the  place  of 
importance  in  this  discussion.  It  is  not  our  intention,  in  the 
present  article,  to  enter  at  large  into  a  matter  which  has  called 
forth  so  much  diplomatic  correspondence,  so  much  angry 
debate,  so  much  warlike  rhetoric  as  this.  We  would  not,  if  we 
could,  put  an  end  to  the  lull  which  has  succeeded  the  blasts  of 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  275 

public  feeling,  or  revive  those  heats  which  led  to  the  summary 
rejection  of  the  Johnson  treaty.  It  is  to  be  hoped  that  some 
one  who  has  "  had  perfect  understanding  of  all  things  from  the 
very  first,"  who  can  unite  dignified  calmness  and  impartiality 
with  a  sense  of  justice  and  a  love  of  truth,  will  bring  this,  vexed 
subject  at  the  proper  time  and  in  the  proper  way  before  the 
country,  and  will  thus  lead  public  opinion  to  a  policy  which 
will  be  at  once  just  and  consistent  with  our  old  principles  of 
neutrality.  In  Mr.  Bernard's  exposition  of  the  Alabama  case 
we  find  nothing  to  complain  of;  we  meet  here  the  same  candor 
and  truthfulness  which  is  obvious  throughout  the  work.  The 
facts  are  stated  with  exactness,  and  supported  by  the  proper 
documentary  evidence.  His  opinions  in  regard  to  the  question 
whether  the  British  government  was  culpable  or  not  in  allow 
ing  this  vessel  to  go  out  unarmed  from  the  port  of  Liverpool 
are  freely  but  not  confidently  expressed  on  the  side  of  his  own 
country.  If  they  have  preponderating  weight,  they  will,  in  the 
end,  influence  opinion  on  both  sides  of  the  water.  We  do  not 
intend  to  enter  into  the  discussion  which  they  would  require, 
as  arguments  on  a  point  of  international  law,  but  feel  compelled 
to  pass  them  by  in  respectful  silence.  We  make,  however,  the 
following  observations  on  the  case: — • 

1.  The  vessel,  afterwards    called  the  Alabama,  was  -  con 
fessedly  built  as  a  ship-of-war  for  some  foreign  government ; 
and  one  person  at  least  made  oath  that  he  was  engaged  as  a 
seaman  on  board  of  her,  and  was  informed  by  the  man  who 
hired  him  that  the  vessel  was  going  out  to  the  Confederate 
States  of  America.     The  individuals  who  were  sworn  to  be 
busy  about  this  vessel,  and  one  of  whom  was  described  as  her 
master,  were  reputed  to  be  Confederate  agents. 

2.  When  the  government  issued  orders  to  detain  the  vessel, 
it  admitted  that  there  was  prima  facie  evidence  for  so  doing. 
If  the  delay  in  coming  to  this  conclusion  was  prejudicial  to  the 
United  States,  this  would  be  a  fair  point  to  be  pressed  in  the 
way  of  diplomacy  or  before  a  court  of  arbitration. 

3.  Did  the  adroitness  of  the  Confederate  agents  in  evading 
the  Foreign  Enlistment  Act,  by  sending  the  vessel  without  arma 
ment  into  foreign  waters,  there  to  be  supplied  from  England 
with  a  crew,  guns,  and  all  the  necessaries  of  war, —  did  this  trick 


276  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

free  the  government  from  all  responsibility  in  regard  to  the  in 
juries  inflicted  by  the  Alabama  upon  vessels  of  a  friendly  power. 
It  is  one  thing  to  say,  as  eminent  English  lawyers  say,  that  no  of 
fence  against  either  the  common  law  or  the  Foreign  Enlistment 
Act  was  committed  by  the  mere  building  of  a  ship,  apparently 
adapted  for  warlike  purposes,  and  by  delivering  her,  unequipped 
for  war,  to  the  known  agent  of  a  foreign  belligerent  power,  and 
another  thing  to  say  that  there  would  be  no  wrong  done  to  a 
neutral  by  such  a  proceeding.  Suppose  there  had  been  no  such 
Enlistment  Act,  as  there  was  none  until  a  few  years  since,  do 
the  rights  of  other  nations  end  with  the  provisions  of  municipal 
law  ?  The  law  of  England,  it  is  said,  afforded  no  adequate 
protection  to  ambassadors  until  1708.  Would  it  have  barred 
the  claim  of  a  friend,  whose  ambassador  had  been  maltreated, 
to  say  that  English  law  could  not  protect  him  ?  If  the  Confed 
erate  agent  at  Liverpool  had  sent  word  to  the  British  Secretary 
of  State  that  he  had  had  a  vessel  of  war  built  for  his  govern 
ment,  and  intended  to  take  it  out  to  sea  without  an  armament, 
that,  furthermore,  he  had  made  arrangements  to  have  guns  and 
a  crew  sent  from  other  parts  of  England  to  be  put  on  board  of 
her  at  a  convenient  place,  so  far  as  we  can  gather  from  the 
first  lawyers  of  England,  the  statutes  could  have  put  no  obstacle 
in  his  way.  He  might  have  laughed  at  the  Foreign  Enlistment 
Act,  and  need  have  feared  no  punishment.  But  either  we  on 
this  side  of  the  water  are  grievously  in  the  wrong,  or  interna 
tional  injuries  are  wholly  independent  of  state  law ;  if  there  is 
no  law,  or  an  inefficient  one,  that  is  no  plea  against  foreign 
claims :  the  obligations  of  nations  are  the  main  points  in  the 
case.  Let  it  be  made  to  appear  that  no  wrong  known  to  the 
law  of  nations  is  committed  when  a  ship-builder  on  neutral  soil 
constructs  a  vessel  of  war,  which  is  to  be  employed  avowedly 
in  destroying  the  commerce  of  a  friendly  state,  or  let  it  be 
made  to  appear  that  a  contrivance  which  puts  the  threads  of  an 
armament  together  in  foreign  waters,  when  they  were  evidently 
spun  in  one  and  the  same  country  may  be  overlooked,  and  the 
United  States  can  have  no  just  claim  for  damages  in  the  case  of 
the  Alabama.  But  in  that  case  it  may  well  be  asked,  Of  what 
value  are  international  laws  of  neutrality,  if  the  neutral  sub 
jects  can  do  what  they  will,  and  if  war  is  fed  and  prolonged  by 
their  cupidity  ? 


1870.]        British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  277 

But  it  would  be  of  small  importance  if  we  could  fasten  on 
Great  Britain  the  charge  of  negligence  or  of  insufficient  protec 
tion  to  friendly  states  against  hostile  expeditions  begun  in 
her  territory.  Safety  in  future  wars,  and  the  prevention  of 
heart-burnings  between  countries  of  the  same  race  and  with  the 
same  institutions,  demand  some  change  for  the  future.  That 
change  may  proceed  either  from  an  alteration  in  'English  law 
or  from  some  improvement  in,  or  modification  of,  the  law  of 
nations. 

Both  Mr.  Bernard  and  Mr.  Bemis,  we  believe,  remark  that 
the  English  Foreign  Enlistment  Act  is,  in  most  of  its  provisions, 
more  stringent  than  our  act  of  1817,  after  which  it  was  modelled. 
The  differences  between  the  acts,  besides  those  which  are  to  be 
referred  to  the  attempt  in  the  English  act  at  more  exact 
language,  are  these  two  :  first,  our  act  requires  bonds  to  be 
given,  in  the  case  of  armed  vessels  sailing  out  of  our  ports, 
which  belong  in  whole  or  in  part  to  citizens,  that  such  vessels 
shall  not  be  employed  to  cruise  against  the  subjects  of  any 
friendly  foreign  power:  secondly,  the  colectors  of  customs 
are  required  to  detain  vessels  built  for  purposes  of  war  when 
about  to  leave  our  waters,  of  which  the  cargo  shall  principally 
consist  of  arms  and  munitions  of  war,  whenever  it  is  made  prob 
able  to  them  that  such  vessels  are  intended  to  be  employed  in 
cruising  against  the  subjects  of  friendly  states,  and  such  deten 
tion  shall  continue  until  the  President  gives  his  decision  in  the 
case,  or  until  bonds  are  given,  as  required  by  the  provision 
already  mentioned.  The  original  bill  prevented  citizens  of  the 
United  States  from  selling-  vessels  of  war  to  subjects  of  any 
foreign  power,  but  that  provision  was  struck  out  by  the  Senate. 

Mr.  Bernard  remarks  that  neither  of  these  existing  sections 
of  our  act  could  have  been  applied  in  the  cases  where  com 
plaint  arose  between  the  two  countries ;  the  Alabama,  for  in 
stance,  was  not  a  vessel  owned  even  in  part  by  subjects  of  Great 
Britain,  nor  was  its  cargo,  when  it  left  port,  composed  of  arms 
and  munitions  of  war.  The  two  laws  would  have  had  precisely 
the  same  application  in  a  case  like  this.  The  differences  as  it 
respects  the  execution  of  the  respective  laws  are  thus  stated  by 
our  author :  — 

"  The  English  law,  although  in  terms  more  stringent,  appears  to  Lara 


278  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

been  enforced  in  practice  less  freely  and  readily  than  the  American,  the 
working  of  which  is  assisted  by  a  more  efficient  local  machinery  (the 
institution  of  '  district  attorneys  '),  and  is  also  less  embarrassed,  perhaps, 
by  a  fear  of  illegally  interfering  with  private  rights,  —  a  fear  always 
present  to  the  mind  of  an  English  public  servant,  and  kept  alive  by  the 
constant  responsibility  of  every  subordinate  to  his  chief,  and  of  the 
chief  of  every  department  to  Parliament.  Greater  reliance  is  there 
placed  on  local  officials,  and  a  large  measure  of  discretion  given  to 
them,  and  the  questions  of  fact  on  which  the  legality  of  a  seizure  de 
pends,  are  not  stfbmitted  to  a  jury.*' 

There  is  in  our  system  a  greater  capacity  of  vigorous  admin 
istration  on  the  part  of  the  general  government  than  belongs  to 
the  system  in  Great  Britain  ;  but  we  fear  that  we  must  add  that 
public  opinion  can  paralyze  such  vigor.  It  may  happen  that, 
where  assistance  to  one  of  the  belligerents  is  popular,  the  dis 
trict  attorney  may  share  in  the  sympathy  and  neglect  his  duty, 
or  may  be  overawed  by  the  prevailing  sentiment.  Have  we 
not  had  instances  of  hostile  and  guilty  enterprises  set  on  foot 
within  the  last  twenty  years,  where  the  inferior  officials  of  the 
government  closed  their  eyes  until  the  bird  had  flown  ? 

The  charges  of  the  inefficiency  of  English  law,  whether 
just  or  not,  have  led  to  projects  for  its  improvement.  A  com 
mission  appointed  in  1867  to  consider  and  report  any  changes 
which  it  might  be  desirable  to  make  in  the  neutrality  laws,  re 
ported  the  next  year  to  the  effect  that  "  the  prohibitions  of  the 
act  should  be  enlarged ;  that  the  despatching  of  a  ship  with 
knowledge  that  she  would  be  employed  in  hostilities  by  a  bel 
ligerent,  and  the  building  of  a  ship  with  intent  that  she 
should  be  so  employed,  after  being  fitted  out  and  armed  within 
or  beyond  her  Majesty's  dominions,  should  be  embraced  within 
these  prohibitions.  They  added  a  recommendation,  probably 
of  greater  practical  value,  that  where  reasonable  and  probable 
cause  should  exist  for  believing  that  a  ship  was  about  to  be  de 
spatched  contrary  to  the  enactment,  or,  having  been  built  or 
fitted  out  contrary  to  the  enactment,  was  about  to  be  taken  out 
of  the  dominions  of  the  orown,  power  should  be  given  to  arrest 
and  detain  her,  on  a  warrant  issued  by  the  Secretary  of  State, 
or,  within  the  limits  of  a  colony,  by  the  governor  ;  the  burden 
of  proof  that  no  violation  of  the  act  had  been  committed  or 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  279 

was  intended  to  be  thrown  in  every  case  on  the  owner  of  the 
ship  so  arrested."  This  project  of  an  amendment  of  the  exist 
ing  neutrality  laws  has  been  submitted  to  the  government,  but 
no  legislation,  unless  of  late,  has  carried  it  out.  The  changes 
suggested  seem  to  us  excellent,  and  they  go  far  beyond  our  laws 
of  a  similar  character  in  protecting  friendly  belligerents  against 
unneutral  acts.  If  embodied  in  laws,  they  would  confer  new 
honor  on  that  enlightened  spirit  which  has  led  to  so  many  ad 
vances  in  legislation  during  the  last  fifty  years.  And  thus  there 
would  be  a  proof  to  all  states,  that  the  nation  which  is  at  the  head 
of  the  world's  commerce  has  no  intention  to  promote  its  own 
commerce  in  questionable  ways,  but  rather  has  a  deeper  con 
viction  than  any  other  state  that  its  prosperity  is  connected 
with  universal  peace. 

But  is  it  enough  to  make  the  neutrality  laws  of  the  leading 
states  more  strict  towards  hostife  expeditions  undertaken  with 
in  their  borders,  while  the  law  of  nations  remains  as  it  is  ? 
Let  us  consider  for  a  moment  what  can  now  be  done  by  neu 
trals  when  a  war  breaks  out  between  their  friends.  We  have 
so  generally  occupied  a  neutral  position  since  our  existence  as 
a  nation  began,  and  our  trade,  when  the  rest  of  the  world  was 
at  war,  consisted  so  generally  in  innocent  articles,  —  like  provis 
ions  and  naval  stores,  —  that  we  were  unprepared,  at  the  break 
ing  out  of  the  war,  to  regard  as  lawful  the  kinds  of  trade 
which  the  law  of  nations  does  not  forbid.  Nay,  more,  we 
complained  of  England  for  doing  that  which  we  ourselves  did, 
and  which  our  courts  did  not  condemn  during  the  wars  of  the 
South  American  provinces.  The  law  of  nations,  as  interpreted 
by  our  courts,  requires  no  neutral  to  interfere  for  the  preven 
tion  of  a  trade  in  contraband  carried  on  by  its  citizens  or  sub 
jects,  or  to  take  active  measures  against  ships  purposing  to  run 
a  blockade  instituted  by  a  friendly  state.  It  is  held,  in  a  tech 
nical  and  formal  way,  that  a  contraband  trade  begins  when  the 
articles  so  called  are  afloat  on  the  high  sea;  and  there  is. a 
general  agreement  that  the  neutral  is  not  to  be  put  to  the  cost 
and  trouble  of  keeping  his  subjects  from  such  a  traffic.  The 
police  of  the  seas  belongs  to  the  belligerents,  and  the  violation 
of  neutrality  in  carrying  contraband,  and  in  breaking  blockade, 
.it  is  for  him,  and  for  none  else,  to  notice.  How  often  were 


280  British  Neutrality  during  the  Civil  War.  [Oct. 

Judge  Story's  words  quoted,  especially  by  British  writers  a  few 
years  back,  that  "  there  is  nothing  in  our  laws,  or  in  the  law 
of  nations,  that  forbids  our  citizens  from  sending  armed  ves 
sels,  as  well  as  munitions  of  war,  to  foreign  ports  for  sale.  It 
is  a  commercial  adventure  which  no  nation  is  bound  to  pro 
hibit,  and  which  only  exposes  the  persons  engaged  in  it  to  the 
penalty  of  confiscation."  *  It  is  unnecessary  to  say  that  the 
risk  of  confiscation  has  never  been  so  great,  and  probably 
never  will  be  so  great,  that  the  gains  of  contraband  trade  do 
not  cover  the  losses.  Neutrals  thus  supply  the  food  upon  which 
war  lives,  and  supply  it  alike  to  either  belligerent  that  can 
pay  for  it,  so  that  until  exhaustion  comes  upon  one  of  the  com 
batants,  the  harvest  of  the  neutral  trader  goes  on.  Is  this 
state  of  things  the  best  for  the  interests  of  humanity  and  the 
general  welfare  ?  Is  it  not  better  for  neutrals,  on  the  whole, 
that  wars  should  be  short  and  few  ?  And  if  so,  may  it  not  be 
said  to  be  the  duty  of  nations  to  agree  that  contraband  trade 
shall  be  prohibited  at  the  commencement  of  a  voyage  ?  This 
can  be  done,  as  it  seems  to  us,  without  great  difficulty,  by 
placing-  vessels  carrying  such  articles  under  heavy  bonds  that 
they  shall  not  be  conveyed  to  the  ports  of  a  friendly  nation  en 
gaged  in  war.  We  would  put  blockade-runners,  as  far  as  pos 
sible,  under  the  same  penalties,  and  would  wish  to  have  Dr. 
Phillimore's  suggestion  adopted,  that  all  exportation  of  muni 
tions  of  war  by  merchant  ships  of  the  belligerents  should  be 
strictly  prohibited.  We  should  be  glad  also  to  have  violators 
of  neutrality  considered  as  prisoners  of  war,  and  treated  as 
such.  That  the  world  can  be  brought  to  all  this  with  ease  we 
are  not  credulous  enough  to  believe  ;  but  we  believe  that  if  two 
leading  nations  were  to  make  a  treaty  containing  such  stipula 
tions,  the  probability  of  their  keeping  peace  with  one  another, 
and  with  the  rest  of  the  world,  would  be  decidedly  increased. 
May  we  be  permitted,  before  we  close,  to  make  another  sug 
gestion  looking  towards  a  reform  in  the  law  of  nations  ?  It 
has  been  more  or  less  the  practice  of  cruisers  for  a  long  time, 
when  they  took  an  enemy's  vessel,  and  it  was  inconvenient  to 
send  it  into  port  for  adjudication,  to  destroy  it.  The  French 
went  so  far  as  to  burn  a  number  of  neutral  American  vessels 

*  Case  of  the  Santissima  Trinidad,  7  Wheaton,  340. 


1870.]         British  Neutrality  daring  the  Civil  War.  281 

for  violations  of  the  Berlin  and  Milan  decrees.  The  Confed 
erate  cruisers  in  the  late  war  burnt  only  American  vessels. 
This  harsh  measure,  if  applied  to  neutrals  by  a  belligerent  who 
is  not  as  yet  a  lawful  and  acknowledged  power,  would  be  un 
safe,  for  there  might  be  no  remedy  for  a  wrong  use  of  it.  But 
is  it  a  desirable  exercise  of  power,  where  even  a  sovereign 
state,  which  can  make  compensation  for  injuries  done  by  its 
cruisers,  deals  thus  with  its  enemy  ?  Contracts  of  ransom  are 
falling  into  disuse ;  they  are  frowned  upon  by  the  municipal 
law  of  many  European  states,  especially  in  the  case  of  the 
capture  of  neutral  vessels.  But  whatever  may  be  said  against 
them,  they  are  better  for  the  world  than  burning  vessels,  which 
after  all  might  turn  out  not  to  be  lawful  prize.  At  all  events, 
it  is  time  that  this  most  savage  act  of  war  on  the  sea,  so  far 
beyond  the  ordinary  destructions  of  war  on  the  land,  should  be 
prohibited  by  the  common  voice  of  nations. 

The  close  of  Professor  Bernard's  work  is  occupied  with  dis 
cussions  on  the  rights  of  persons  subjected  to  draft  in  the 
United  States,  who  claimed  to  be  British  subjects,  and  with  a 
sketch  of  the  negotiations  since  the  war,  which  ended  in  Mr. 
Reverdy  Johnson's  convention.  Then  follows  a  concluding 
chapter,  in  which  he  notices  the  inconsistency  between  our  old 
positions  when  we  were  neutrals  and  those  which  we  took  when 
we  became  belligerents.  He  has  a  right  to  do  this,  and  such 
inconsistency  has  been  freely  admitted  in  this  article.  We  are 
sorry,  however,  that  he  should  feel  called  upon  to  use  the 
words,  "  It  is  the  government  of  the  United  States  which  has 
asserted,  rightly  or  wrongly,  the  claim  of  a  belligerent  to  cap 
ture  a  neutral  vessel  conveying  a  diplomatic  agent  of  the 
enemy  from  one  neutral  port  to  another,"  when  that  govern 
ment  abandoned  its  position,  and  in  fact  acknowledged  its  mis 
take.  But  his  sense  of  justice  leads  him  to  express  himself  in 
the  following  words,  which  we  are  glad  to  cite  :  — 

"  I  do  not  recall  these  facts  in  order  to  throw  blame  on  the  American 
government,  but  because  they  'show  how  the  point  of  view  from  which 
a  state  regards  questions  of  international  right  and  expediency  may 
be  affected  by  the  situation  in  which  it  is  placed,  and  how  rapidly  even 
cherished  opinions  may  give  way  before  a  great  and  violent  change  of 
circumstances.  The  history  of  international  law  is  full  of  such  varia- 


282  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

tions  and  inconsistencies.  We,  ourselves,  are  not  clear  from  them. 
Among  the  complaints  urged  by  Mr.  Seward  and  Mr.  Adams,  there 
are  some  which  seem  but  reproductions  of  those  addressed  by  Lord  Stor- 
mont  and  Sir  Joseph  Yorke  to  the  French  and  Dutch  governments, 
during  the  war  of  American  Independence.  And  it  would  be  easy  to 
draw  an  effective  contrast  between  the  severity  with  which  Great 
Britain  formerly  enforced  the  rights  of  belligerents,  and  the  warmth 
with  which  she  lately  asserted  the  rights  of  neutrals." 

And  in  this  same  strain  of  candor  he  proceeds  to  set  forth 
the  painful  and  trying  position  in  which  the  United  States  was 
placed,  when  struggling  for  their  political  existence  with  a 
mighty  revolt.  It  is  this  sense  of  justice,  which  appears  in 
almost  every  chapter,  that  entitles  him  to  our  sincere  respect. 
He  gives,  it  is  true,  some  hard  blows  to  some  of  the  doctrines 
insisted  upon,  on  our  side,  during  the  late  war.  It  is  good, 
however,  when  a  man  with  no  especial  sympathy  for  a  cause, 
but  with  a  decided  love  of  truth,  can  survey  the  ground  where 
nations  have  contended  with  a  judicial  eye,  and  determine  the 
landmarks  that  are  to  stand  for  the  future.  Only  such  discus 
sion  can  abate  excessive  pretensions,  can  bring  the  opinions  of 
nations  into  harmony,  and  can  settle  the  principles  of  inter 
national  law  so  firmly  that  old  errors  shall  not  be  from  time 
to  time  revived. 

THEODORE  D.  WOOLSEY. 


ART.  II.  —  Contributions  to  the  Theory  of  Natural  Selection.  A 
Series  of  Essays.  By  ALFRED  RUSSELL  WALLACE,  Author  of 
"The  Malay  Archipelago,"  etc.,  etc.  London  and  New 
York:  Macmillan  &  Co.  1870.  8vo.  pp.  xvi.  and  384. 

FEW  scientific  theories  have  met  with  such  a  cordial  reception 
by  the  world  of  scientific  investigators,  or  created  in  so  short  a 
time  so  complete  a  revolution  in  general  philosophy,  as  the 
doctrine  of  the  derivation  of  organic  species  by  Natural  Selec 
tion  ;  perhaps  no  other  can  compare  with  it  when  we  consider 
the  incompleteness  of  the  proofs  on  which  it  still  relies,  or  the 
previous  prejudice  against  the  main  thesis  implied  in  it,  the 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  283 

theory  of  the  development  or  transmutation  of  species.  The 
Newtonian  theory  of  gravity,  or  Harvey's  theory  of  the  circu 
lation  of  the  blood,  in  spite  of  the  complete  and  overwhelming 
proofs  by  which  these  were  soon  substantiated,  were  much  longer 
in  overcoming  to  the  same  degree  the  deeply-rooted  prejudices 
and  preconceptions  opposed  to  them.  In  less  than  a  decade  the 
doctrine  of  Natural  Selection  had  conquered  the  opposition  of 
the  great  majority  of  the  students  of  natural  history,  as  well  as 
of  the  students  of  general  philosophy ;  and  it  seems  likely  that 
we  shall  witness  the  unparalleled  spectacle  of  an  all  but  uni 
versal  reception  by  the  scientific  world  of  a  revolutionary 
doctrine  in  the  lifetime  of  its  author ;  though  by  the  rigorous 
tests  of  scientific  induction  it  will  yet  hardly  be  entitled  to 
more  than  the  rank  of  a  very  probable  hypothesis.  How  is 
this  singular  phenomenon  to  be  explained  ?  Doubtless  in  great 
part  by  the  extraordinary  skill  which  Mr.  Darwin  has  brought 
to  the  proof  and  promulgation  of  his  views.  To  this,  Mr. 
Wallace  thus  testifies  in  the  Preface  to  his  book  :  — 

"  The  present  work  will,  I  venture  to  think,  prove  that  I  both  saw 
at  the  time  the  value  and  scope  of  the  law  which  I  had  discovered,  and 
have  since  been  able  to  apply  it  to  some  purpose  in  a  few  original  lines 
of  investigation.  But  here  my  claims  cease.  I  have  felt  all  my  life, 
and  I  still  feel,  the  most  sincere  satisfaction  that  Mr.  Darwin  had  been 
at  work  long  before  me,  and  that  it  was  not  left  for  me  to  attempt  to 
write  'The  Origin  of  Species/  I  have  long  since  measured  my  own 
strength,  and  know  well  that  it  would  be  quite  unequal  to  that  task. 
Far  abler  men  than  myself  may  confess  that  they  have  not  that  untir 
ing  patience  in  accumulating,  and  that  wonderful  skill  in  using  large 
masses  of  facts  of  the  most  varied  kind,  —  that  wide  and  accurate 
physiological  knowledge,  —  that  acuteness  in  devising,  and  skill  in  car 
rying  out,  experiments,  and  that  admirable  style  of  composition,  at 
once  clear,  persuasive,  and  judicial,  —  qualities  which,  in  their  har 
monious  combination,  mark  out  Mr.  Darwin  as  the  man,  perhaps  of  all 
men  now  living,  best  fitted  for  the  great  work  he  has  undertaken  and 
accomplished." 

But  the  skilful  combination  of  inductive  and  deductive 
proofs  with  hypothesis,  though  a  powerful  engine  of  scientific 
discovery,  must  yet  work  upon  the  basis  of  a  preceding  and 
simpler  induction.  Pythagoras  would  never  have  demonstrated 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  229.  19 


284  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

the  "  forty-seventh,"  if  he  had  not  had  some  ground  of  believing 
in  it  beforehand.  The  force  and  value  of  a  preceding  and  sim 
pler  proof  has  been  obscured  in  this  case  by  subsequent  investi 
gations.  That  more  fundamental  evidence  accounts  for  the  fact 
that  two  such  skilful  observers  and  reasoners  as  Mr.  Wallace 
and  Mr.  Darwin  arrived  at  the  same  convictions  in  regard  to 
the  derivation  of  species,  in  entire  independence  of  each  other, 
and  were  constrained  to  accept  the  much-abused  and  almost 
discarded  u  transmutation  hypothesis."  And  it  shows,  what  is 
more  singular,  why  both  reached,  independently,  the  same  ex 
planation  of  the  process  of  derivation.  This  was  obviously 
from  their  similar  experiences  as  naturalists  ;  from  the  force 
of  the  same  obscure  and  puzzling  facts  which  their  studies  of 
the  geographical  distributions  of  animals  and  plants  had 
brought  to  their  notice,  though  the  Malthusian  doctrine  of 
population  was,  doubtless,  the  original  source  of  their  common 
theory.  Mr.  Darwin,  in  the  Introduction  to  his  later  work  on 
"  The  Variation  of  Animals  and  Plants  under  Domestication," 
attributes  the  beginnings  of  his  speculations  to  the  phenomena 
of  the  distributions  of  life  over  large  continental  areas,  and  in 
the  islands  of  large  archipelagos,  and  especially  refers  to  the 
curious  phenomena  of  life  in  the  Galapagos  Islands  in  the 
Pacific  Ocean.  Mr.  Wallace,  in  his  first  essay,  originally  pub 
lished  in  1855,  four  years  earlier  than  "  The  Origin  of  Species," 
refers  to  the  same  class  of  facts,  and  the  same  special  facts  in 
regard  to  the  Galapagos  Islands,  as  facts  which  demand  the 
transmutation  hypothesis  for  their  sufficient  explanation. 

In  the  logical  as  well  as  historical  consideration  of  the 
theory  of  natural  selection  these  facts,  and  the  related  phe 
nomena  of  the  geological  successions  of  life  (which  afforded 
the  first  scientific  basis  of  the  theory  of  transmutation),  are 
of  greater  importance  than  in  the  present  aspects  of  the  theory 
is  likely  to  appear  to  the  general  reader.  The  superstructure 
of  the  theory,  the  proper  discussion  of  Natural  Selection  and 
the  related  estimates  of  the  geological  record,  the  points  in 
which  u  Darwinism  "  differs  from  the  older  forms  of  the  trans 
mutation  hypothesis,  from  the  views  of  Lamarck,  and  of  the 
author  of  "  The  Vestiges  of  Creation,"  are  chiefly  negative 
phases  of  the  doctrine,  elaborate  and  often  ingenious  reason- 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  285 

ings  against  the  difficulties  of  an  hypothesis,  the  first  inductive 
grounds  of  which  are  quite  independent  of  them,  but  will, 
doubtless,  be  ultimately  brought  within  the  scope  of  their  de 
ductive  demonstrations,  so  far  as  it  is  possible  to  reconstruct  a 
continuous  history  of  organic  life  from  facts  so  multitudinous 
and  confused  as  the  present  distributions  of  life  on  the  globe, 
or  so  meagre  and  fragmentary  as  those  which  the  records  of 
past  life  afford.  But  though  much  is  to  be  credited  to  the 
sagacity  and  candor  of  these  most  accomplished  travellers  and 
observers  in  appreciating  the  force  of  obscure  and  previously 
little  studied  facts,  yet  their  theoretical  discussions  of  the  hy 
pothesis  brought  forward  to  explain  them  must  be  credited 
with  an  immense  addition  to  the  same  class  of  observations,  of 
which  Mr.  Wallace's  studies,  especially  the  essay  on  "  Mim 
icry,  and  other  Protective  Resemblances  among  Animals,"  and 
the  four  following  essays,  are  admirable  examples.  Not  only 
Mr.  Darwin's  observations  and  experimental  studies,  pursued 
for  many  years  previous  to  the  publication  of  the  "  Origin  of 
Species,"  but  an  ever-increasing  activity  in  the  same  field,  a 
new  and  most  stimulating  interest  in  the  external  economy 
of  life,  —  in  the  relations  of  living  beings  to  their  special  con 
ditions  of  existence,  —  have  been  created  by  this  discussion. 
And  so  the  discussion  is  no  longer  closet  work.  It  is  no  web 
woven  from  self-consuming  brains,  but  a  vast  accumulation  of 
related  facts  of  observation,  bound  together  by  the  bond  of 
what  must  still  be  regarded  as  an  hypothesis,  —  an  hypothesis, 
however,  which  has  no  rival  with  any  student  of  nature  in 
whose  mind  reverence  does  not,  in  some  measure,  neutralize 
the  intellect's  aversion  to  the  arbitrary.  In  anticipating  the 
general  acceptance  of  the  doctrine  which  Mr.  Darwin  and  Mr. 
Wallace  have  done  so  much  to  illustrate,  we  ought  to  except 
those  philosophers  who,  from  a  severe,  ascetic,  and  self-restrain 
ing  temper,  or  from  preoccupation  with  other  researches,  are 
disposed  to  regard  such  speculations  as  beyond  the  proper 
province  of  scientific  inquiry.  But  to  stop  short  in  a  research 
of  "  secondary  causes,"  so  long  as  experience  or  reason  can 
suggest  any  derivation  of  laws  and  relations  in  nature  which 
must  otherwise  be  accepted  as  ultimate  facts,  is  not  agreeable 
to  that  Aristotelian  type  of  mind  which  scientific  culture  so 


286  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

powerfully  tends  to  produce.  Whatever  the  theological  ten 
dencies  of  such  a  mind,  whether  ultimate  facts  are  regarded 
by  it  as  literally  arbitrary,  the  decrees  of  an  absolute  will,  or 
are  summarily  explained  by  what  Professor  De  Morgan  calls 
"  that  exquisite  atheism, '  the  nature  of  things,'  "  it  still  can 
not  look  upon  the  intricate  system  of  adaptations,  peculiar  to 
the  organic  world  (which  illustrates  what  Cuvier  calls  "  the 
principle  of  the  conditions  of  existence,  vulgarly  called  the 
principle  of  final  causes"),  —  it  cannot  look  upon  this  as  an 
arbitrary  system,  or  as  composed  of  facts  independent  of  all 
ulterior  facts  (like  the  axioms  of  mechanics  or  arithmetic  or 
geometry),  so  long  as  any  explanation,  not  tantamount  to  arbi 
trariness  itself,  has  any  probability  in  the  order  of  nature. 
This  scientific  instinct  stops  far  short  of  an  irreverent  attitude 
of  mind,  though  it  does  not  permit  things  that  claim  its 
reverence  to  impede  its  progress.  And  so  a  class  of  facts,  of 
which  the  organical  sciences  had  previously  made  some  use  as 
instruments  of  scientific  discovery,  but  which  was  appropriated 
especially  to  the  reasonings  of  Natural  Theology,  has  fallen  to 
the  province  of  the  discussions  of  Natural  Selection,  and  has 
been  wonderfully  enlarged  in  consequence.  It  cannot  be 
denied  that  this  change  has  weakened  the  force  of  the  argu 
ments  of  Natural  Theology  ;  but  it  is  simply  by  way  of  sub 
traction  or  by  default,  and  not  as  offering  any  arguments 
opposed  to  the  main  conclusions  of  theology.  "  Natural  Selec 
tion  is  not  inconsistent  with  Natural  Theology,"  in  the  sense  of 
refuting  the  main  conclusions  of  that  science,  but  only  by  re 
ducing  to  the  condition  of  an  arbitrary  assumption  one  impor 
tant  point  in  its  interpretation  of  special  adaptations  in  organic 
life,  namely,  the  assumption  that  in  such  adaptations  foresight 
and  special  provision  is  shown,  analogous  to  the  designing, 
anticipatory  imaginings  and  volitions  in  the  mental  actions 
of  the  higher  animals,  and  especially  in  the  mind  of  man. 

Upon  this  point  the  doctrine  of  Natural  Selection  assumes 
only  such  general  anticipation  of  the  wants  or  advantages  of  an 
animal  or  plant  as  is  implied  in  the  laws  of  inheritance.  That 
is,  an  animal  or  a  plant  is  produced  adapted  to  the  general 
conditions  of  its  existence,  with  only  such  anticipation  of  a 
change  or  of  varieties  in  these  conditions  as  is  implied  in  its 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  287 

general  tendencies  to  vary  from  the  inherited  type.  Particular 
uses  have  no  special  causal  relations  to  the  variations  that  occur 
and  become  of  use.  In  other  words,  Natural  Selection,  as  an 
hypothesis,  does  not  assume,  and,  so  far  as  it  is  based  on  obser 
vation,  it  affords  no  evidence,  that  any  adaptation  is  specially 
anticipated  in  the  order  of  nature.  From  this  point  of  view, 
the  wonderfully  intricate  system  of  special  adaptations  in  the 
organic  world  is,  at  any  epoch  of  its  history,  altogether  retro 
spective.  Only  so  far  as  the  past  affords  a  type  of  the  future, 
both  in  the  organism  itself  and  in  its  external  conditions,  can 
the  conditions  of  existence  be  said  to  determine  the  adaptations 
of  life.  As  thus  interpreted,  the  doctrine  of  Final  Causes  is  de 
prived  of  the  feature  most  obnoxious  to  its  opponents,  that 
abuse  of  the  doctrine  "  which  makes  the  cause  to  be  engendered 
by  the  effect."  But  it  is  still  competent  to  the  devout  mind  to 
take  a  broader  view  of  the  organic  world,  to  regard,  not  its  sin 
gle  phases  only,  but  the  whole  system  from  its  first  beginnings 
as  presupposing  all  that  it  exhibits,  or  has  exhibited,  or  could 
exhibit,  of  the  contrivances  and  adaptations  which  may  thus  in 
one  sense  be  said  to  be  foreordained.  In  this  view,  however, 
the  organical  sciences  lose  their  traditional  and  peculiar  value  to 
the  arguments  of  Natural  Theology,  and  become  only  a  part  of 
the  universal  order  of  nature,  like  the  physical  sciences  gener 
ally,  in  the  principles  of  which  philosophers  have  professed  to 
find  no  sign  of  a  divinity.  But  may  they  not,  while  professing 
to  exclude  the  idea  of  God  from  their  systems,  have  really  in 
cluded  him  unwittingly,  as  immanent  in  the  very  thought  that 
denies,  in  the  very  systems  that  ignore  him  ?  So  far  as  Natural 
Theology  aims  to  prove  that  the  principles  of  utility  and  adap 
tation  are  all-pervasive  laws  in  the  organic  world,  Natural  Selec 
tion  is  not  only  not  inconsistent,  but  is  identical  with  it.  But 
here  Natural  Selection  pauses.  It  does  not  go  on  to  what  has 
been  really  the  peculiar  province  of  Natural  Theology,  to  dis 
cover,  or  trace  the  analogies  of  organic  adaptations  to  proper 
designs,  or  to  the  anticipations  of  wants  and  advantages  in  the 
mental  actions  of  man  and  the  higher  animals.  In  themselves 
these  mental  actions  bear  a  striking  resemblance  to  those  as 
pects  of  organic  life  in  general,  which  Natural  Selection 
regards ;  and  according  to  t^  views  of  the  experiential  psy- 


288  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

chologist,  this  resemblance  is  not  a  mere  analogy.  In  them 
selves,  and  without  reference  to  the  external  uses  of  these 
mental  actions,  they  are  the  same  generalized  reproductions  of 
a  past  experience  as  those  which  the  organic  world  exhibits  in 
its  laws  of  inheritance,  and  are  modified  by  the  same  tenta 
tive  powers  and  processes  of  variation,  but  to  a  much  greater 
degree.  But  here  the  resemblance  ceases.  The  relations  of 
such  mental  actions  to  the  external  life  of  an  organism,  in 
which  they  are  truly  prophetic  and  providential  agencies,  though 
founded  themselves  on  the  observation  of  a  past  order  in  expe 
rience,  are  entirely  unique  and  unparalleled,  so  far  as  any 
assumption  in  the  doctrine  of  Natural  Selection,  or  any  proofs 
which  it  adduces  are  concerned.  Nevertheless,  a  greater  though 
vaguer  analogy  remains.  Some  of  the  wants  and  adapta 
tions  of  men  and  animals  are  anticipated  by  their  designing 
mental  actions.  Does  not  a  like  foreseeing  power,  ordaining 
and  governing  the  whole  of  nature,  anticipate  and  specially 
provide  for  some  of  its  adaptations  ?  This  appears  to  be  the 
distinctive  position  in  which  Natural  Theology  now  stands. 

We  have  dwelt  somewhat  at  length  on  this  aspect  of  our  au 
thor's  subject,  with  reference  to  its  bearing  on  his  philosophical 
views,  set  forth  in  his  concluding  essay  on  "  The  Limits  of  Nat 
ural  Selection  as  applied  to  Man,"  in  which  his  theological  po 
sition  appears  to  be  that  which  we  have  just  denned.  We 
should  like  to  quote  many  passages  from  the  preceding  essays, 
in  illustration  of  the  principle  of  utility  and  adaptation,  in  which 
Mr.  Wallace  appears  at  his  best ;  but  one  example  must  suffice. 
"  It  is  generally  acknowledged  that  the  best  test  of  the  truth 
and  completeness  of  a  theory  is  the  power  which  it  gives  us  of 
prevision  "  ;  and  on  this  ground  Mr.  Wallace  justly  claims  great 
weight  for  the  following  inquiry  into  the  "  use  of  the  gaudy 
colors  of  many  caterpillars,"  in  the  essay  on  Mimicry,  etc., 
p.  117:  — 

"  Since  this  essay  was  first  published,  a  very  curious  difficulty  has 
been  cleared  up  by  the  application  of  the  general  principle  of  protective 
coloring.  Great  numbers  of  caterpillars  are  so  brilliantly  marked  and 
colored  as  to  be  very  conspicuous  even  at  a  considerable  distance,  and 
it  has  been  noticed  that  such  caterpillars  seldom  hide  themselves. 
Other  species,  however,  are  green  or  brown,  closely  resembling  the  col- 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  289 

ors  of  the  substances  on  which  they  feed  ;  while  others  again  imitate 
sticks,  and  stretch  themselves  out  motionless  from  a  twig,  so  as  to  look 
like  one  of  its  branches.  Now,  as  caterpillars  form  so  large  a  part  of 
the  food  of  birds,  it  was  not  easy  to  understand  why  any  of  them  should 
have  such  bright  colors  and  markings  as  to  make  them  specially  visible. 
Mr.  Darwin  had  put  the  case  to  me  as  a  difficulty  from  another  point  of 
view,  for  he  had  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that  brilliant  coloration  in 
the  animal  kingdom,  is  mainly  due  to  sexual  selection,  and  this  could 
not  have  acted  in  the  case  of  sexless  larvae.  Applying  here  the  anal 
ogy  of  other  insects,  I  reasoned,  that  since  some  caterpillars  were  evi 
dently  protected  by  their  imitative  coloring,  and  others  by  their  spiny  or 
hairy  bodies,  the  bright  colors  of  the  rest  must  also  be  in  some  way  use 
ful  to  them.  I  further  thought,  that  as  some  butterflies  and  moths  were 
greedily  eaten  by  birds  while  others  were  distasteful  to  them,  and 
these  latter  were  mostly  of  conspicuous  colors,  so  probably  these  bril 
liantly  colored  caterpillars  were  distasteful  and  therefore  never  eaten  by 
birds.  Distastefulness  alone  would,  however,  be  of  little  service  to  cat 
erpillars,  because  their  soft  and  juicy  bodies  are  so  delicate,  that  if 
seized  and  afterwards  rejected  by  a  bird  they  would  almost  certainly  be 
killed.  Some  constant  and  easily  perceived  signal  was  therefore  neces 
sary  to  serve  as  a  warning  to  birds  never  to  touch  these  uneatable 
kinds,  and  a  very  gaudy  and  conspicuous  coloring,  with  the  habit  of 
fully  exposing  themselves  to  view,  becomes  such  a  signal,  being  in  strong 
contrast  with  the  green  and  brown  tints  and  retiring  habits  of  the  eat 
able  kinds.  The  subject  was  brought  by  me  before  the  Entomological 
Society  (see  Proceedings,  March  4, 1867),  in  order  that  those  members 
having  opportunities  for  making  observations  might  do  so  in  the  follow 
ing  summer,"  etc. 

Extensive  experiments  with  birds,  insectivorous  reptiles,  and 
spiders,  by  two  British  naturalists,  were  published  two  years 
later,  and  fully  confirmed  Mr.  Wallace's  anticipations.  His 
book  is  full  of  such  curious  matters. 

In  a  controversial  essay  called  "  Creation  by  Law,"  an  an 
swer  to  various  criticisms  of  the  doctrine  of  Natural  Selection, 
Mr.  Wallace  is  equally  happy  and  able  ;  and  in  his  essay  on 
"  The  Action  of  Natural  Selection  on  Man,"  he  shows  a  won 
derful  sagacity  and  skill  in  developing  a  new  phase  of  his  sub 
ject,  while  meeting,  as  in  so  many  other  cases,  obstacles  and 
objections  to  the  theory.  It  appears,  both  by  geological  evi 
dence  and  by  deductive  reasonings  in  this  essay,  that  the 
human  race  is  singularly  exempt  from  variation,  and  the  ac- 


290  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

tion  of  Natural  Selection,  so  far  as  its  merely  physical  quali 
ties  are  concerned.  This  follows  from  theoretical  considera 
tions,  since  the  race  has  come  to  depend  mainly  on  its  mental 
qualities,  and  since  it  is  on  these,  and  not  on  its  bodily  powers, 
that  Natural  Selection  must  act.  Hence  the  small  amount  of 
physical  differences  between  the  earliest  men  of  whom  the  re 
mains  have  been  found  and  the  men  of  the  present  day,  as  com 
pared  to  differences  in  other  and  contemporary  races  of  mammals. 
We  may  generalize  from  this  and  from  Mr.  Darwin's  observa 
tion  on  the  comparatively  extreme  variability  of  plants,  that  in 
the  scale  of  life  there  is  a  gradual  decline  in  physical  varia 
bility,  as  the  organism  has  gathered  into  itself  resources  for 
meeting  the  exigencies  of  changing  external  conditions;  and 
that  while  in  the  mindless  and  motionless  plant  these  resources 
are  at  a  minimum^  their  maximum  is  reached  in  the  mind  of 
man,  which,  at  length,  rises  to  a  level  with  the  total  order  and 
powers  of  nature,  and  in  its  scientific  comprehension  of  nature 
is  a  summary,  an  epitome  of  the  world.  But  the  scale  of  life 
determined  by  the  number  and  variety  of  actual  resources  in 
an  organism  ought  to  be  distinguished  from  the  rank  that 
depends  on  a  high  degree  of  speciality  in  particular  parts  and 
functions,  since  in  such  respects  an  organism  tends  to  be  high 
ly  variable. 

But  Mr.  Wallace  thinks,  and  argues  in  his  concluding  essay, 
that  this  marvellous  being,  the  human  mind,  cannot  be  a  prod 
uct  of  Natural  Selection ;  that  some,  at  least,  of  the  mental 
and  moral  qualities  of  man  are  beyond  the  jurisdiction  and 
measure  of  utility  ;  that  Natural  Selection  has  its  limits,  and 
that  among  the  most  conspicuous  examples  of  its  failure  to 
explain  the  order  of  nature  are  the  more  prominent  and 
characteristic  distinctions  of  the  human  race.  Some  of  these, 
according  to  Mr.  Wallace,  are  physical ;  not  only  the  physical 
instruments  of  man's  mental  nature,  his  voluminous  brain,  his 
cunning  hand,  the  structure  and  power  of  his  vocal  organs,  but 
also  a  characteristic  which  appears  to  have  no  relation  to  his 
mental  nature,  —  his  nakedness.  Man  is  distinguished  from 
all  soft  and  delicate  skinned  terrestrial  mammals  in  having  no 
hairy  covering  to  protect  his  body.  In  other  mammals  the  hair 
is  a  protection  against  rain,  as  is  proved  by  the  manner  in  which 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  291 

it  is  disposed,  —  a  kind  of  argument,  by  the  way,  especially 
prized  by  Cuvier,  which  has  acquired  great  validity  since  Har 
vey's  reasonings  on  the  valves  of  the  veins.*  The  backs  of  these 
animals  are  more  especially  protected  in  this  way.  But  it  is 
from  the  back  more  especially  that  the  hairy  covering  is  missed 
in  the  whole  human  race  ;  and  is  so  effectually  abolished  as  a 
character  of  the  species,  that  it  never  occurs  even  by  such 
reversions  to  ancestral  types  as  are  often  exhibited  in  animal 
races.  How  could  this  covering  have  ever  been  injurious,  or 
other  than  useful  to  men  ?  Or,  if  at  any  time  in  the  past  his 
tory  of  the  race  it  was  for  any  unknown  reason  injurious,  why 
should  not  the  race,  or  at  least  some  part  of  it,  have  recovered 
from  the  loss  and  acquired  anew  so  important  a  protection  ? 
Mr.  Wallace  is  not  unmindful  of  Mr.  Darwin's  doctrine  of  Cor 
related  Variation,  and  the  explanations  it  affords  of  useless  and 

*  It  is  remarkable  that  our  author  should  be  so  willing  to  attribute  such  a  slight 
and  unimportant  character  as  the  hair  of  animals,  and  even  the  lay  of  it,  to  Natural 
Selection,  and,  at  the  same  time,  should  regard  the  absence  of  it  from  the  human 
back  as  beyond  the  resources  of  natural  explanations.  We  credit  him,  nevertheless, 
with  the  clearest  appreciation,  through  his  studies  and  reflections,  of  the  extent  of 
the  action  of  the  law  which  he  independently  discovered ;  which  comprises  in  its 
scope,  not  merely  the  stern  necessities  of  mere  existence,  but  the  gentlest  amenities 
of  the  most  favored  life.  Sexual  Selection,  with  all  its.obscure  and  subtle  influ 
ences,  is  a  type  of  this  gentler  action,  which  ranges  all  the  way  in  its  command  of 
fitnesses  from  the  hard  necessities  of  utility  and  warfare  to  the  apparently  useless 
superfluities  of  beauty  and  affection.  Nay,  more,  a  defect  which,  without  subtract 
ing  from  the  attractions  or  any  other  important  external  advantage  in  an  animal, 
should  simply  be  the  source  of  private  discomfort  to  it,  is  certain  to  come  under 
the  judgments  of  this  all-searching  principle. 

It  is  a  fair  objection,  however,  sometimes  made  against  the  theory  of  Natural 
Selection,  that  it  abounds  in  loopholes  of  ingenious  escape  from  the  puzzling  prob 
lems  of  nature  ;  and  that,  instead  of  giving  real  explanations  of  many  phenomena, 
it  simply  refers  them  in  general  terms  to  obscure  and  little  known,  perhaps  wholly 
inadequate  causes,  of  which  it  holds  omne  iynotum  pro  magnijico.  But  this  objection, 
though  good,  so  far  as  it  goes,  against  the  theory,  is  not  in  favor  of  any  rival  hypothesis, 
least  of  all  of  that  greatest  of  unknown  causes,  the  supernatural,  which  is  magnificent 
indeed  in  adequacy,  if  it  be  only  real,  but  whose  reality  must  rest  forever  on  the  nega 
tive  evidence  of  the  insufficiency,  not  only  of  the  known,  but  of  all  possible  natural 
explanations,  and  whose  sufficiency  even  is,  after  all,  only  the  counterpart  or  reflection, 
of  their  apparent  insufficiencies.  Hence  the  objection  is  a  fair  one  only  against  cer 
tain  phases  of  this  theory,  and  against  the  tendency  to  rest  satisfied  with  its  imperfect 
explanations,  or  to  regard  them  lightly  as  trivial  defects.  But  to  such  criticisms  the 
progress  of  the  theory  itself,  in  the  study  of  nature,  is  a  sufficient  answer  in  gen 
eral,  and  is  a  triumphant  vindication  of  the  mode  of  inquiry,  against  which  such 
criticisms  are  sometimes  unjustly  made. 


292  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

even  injurious  characters  in  animals  ;  but  he  limits  his  consid 
eration  of  it  to  the  supposition  that  the  loss  of  hair  by  the  race 
might  have  been  a  physiological  consequence  of  correlation  with 
some  past  unknown  hurtful  qualities.  From  such  a  loss,  how 
ever,  he  argues,  the  race  ought  to  have  recovered.  But  he 
omits  to  consider  the  possible  correlation  of  the  absence  of 
hair  with  qualities  not  necessarily  injurious,  but  useful,  which 
remain  and  equally  distinguish  the  race.  Many  correlated 
variations  are  quite  inexplicable.  "  Some  are  quite  whim 
sical:  thus  cats,  which  are  entirely  white  and  have  blue  eyes, 
are  generally  deaf,"  and  very  few  instances  could  be  anticipated 
from  known  physiological  laws,  such  as  homological  relations. 
There  is,  however,  a  case  in  point,  cited  by  Mr.  Darwin,  the 
correlation  of  imperfect  teeth  with  the  nakedness  of  the  hair 
less  Turkish  dog.  If  the  intermediate  varieties  between  men 
and  the  man-apes  had  been  preserved,  and  a  regular  connection 
between  the  sizes  of  their  brains,  or  developments  of  the  nervous 
system,  and  the  amount  of  hair  on  their  backs  were  observed, 
this  would  be  as  good  evidence  of  correlation  between  these 
two  characters  as  that  which  exists  in  most  cases  of  correlation. 
But  how,  in  the  absence  of  any  evidence  to  test  this  or  any 
other  hypothesis,  can  Mr.  Wallace  presume  to  say  that  the  law 
of  Natural  Selection  cannot  explain  such  a  peculiarity  ?  It  may 
be  that  no  valid  proof  is  possible  of  any  such  explanation, 
but  how  is  he  warranted  in  assuming  on  that  account  some 
exceptional  and  wholly  occult  cause  for  it  ?  There  is  a  kind  of 
correlation  between  the  presence  of  brains  and  the  absence  of 
hair  which  is  not  of  so  obscure  a  nature,  and  may  serve  to 
explain  in  part,  at  least,  why  Natural  Selection  has  not  restored 
the  protection  of  a  hairy  coat,  however  it  may  have  been  lost. 
Mr.  Wallace  himself  signalizes  this  correlation  in  the  preced 
ing  essay.  It  is  that  through  which  art  supplies  to  man  in  a 
thousand  ways  the  deficiencies  of  nature,  and  supersedes  the 
action  of  Natural  Selection.  Every  savage  protects  his  back 
by  artificial  coverings.  Mr.  Wallace  cites  this  fact  as  a  proof 
that  the  loss  of  hair  is  a  defect  which  Natural  Selection  ought 
to  remedy.  But  why  should  Natural  Selection  remedy  what 
art  has  already  cared  for  ?  In  this  essay  Mr.  Wallace  seems 
to  us  to  have  laid  aside  his  usual  scientific  caution  and  acute- 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  293 

ness,  and  to  have  devoted  his  powers  to  the  service  of  that  su 
perstitious  reverence  for  human  nature  which,  not  content  with 
prizing  at  their  worth  the  actual  qualities  and  acquisitions  of 
humanity,  desires  to  intrench  them  with  a  deep  and  metaphysi 
cal  line  of  demarcation. 

There  are,  doubtless,  many  and  very  important  limitations 
to  the  action  of  Natural  Selection,  which  the  enthusiastic  stu 
dent  of  the  science  ought  to  bear  in  mind ;  but  they  belong  to 
the  application  of  the  principle  of  utility  to  other  cases  as  well 
as  to  that  of  the  derivation  of  human  nature.  Mr.  Wallace 
regards  the  vocal  powers  of  the  human  larynx  as  beyond  the 
generative  action  of  Natural  Selection,  since  the  savage  neither 
uses  nor  appreciates  all  its  powers.  But  the  same  observation 
applies  as  well  to  birds,  for  certain  species,  as  he  says  in  his 
essay  on  "  The  Philosophy  of  Bird's  Nests,"  "  which  have  natu 
rally  little  variety  of  song,  are  ready  in  confinement  to  learn 
from  other  species,  and  become  much  better  songsters."  It 
would  not  be  difficult  to  prove  that  the  musical  capacities  of  the 
human  voice  involve  no  elementary  qualities  which  are  not 
involved  in  the  cadences  of  speech,  and  in  such  other  powers 
of  expression  as  are  useful  at  least,  if  not  indispensable,  in  lan 
guage.  There  are  many  consequences  of  the  ultimate  laws  or 
uniformities  of  nature,  through  which  the  acquisition  of  one 
useful  power  will  bring  with  it  many  resulting  advantages,  as 
well  as  limiting  disadvantages,  actual  or  possible,  which  the 
principle  of  utility  may  not  have  comprehended  in  its  action. 
This  principle  necessarily  presupposes  a  basis  in  an  antecedent 
constitution  of  nature,  in  principles  of  fitness,  and  laws  of 
cause  and  effect,  in  the  origin  of  which  it  has  had  no  agency. 
The  question  of  the  origin  of  this  constitution,  if  it  be  a  proper 
question,  belongs  to  metaphysical  philosophy,  or,  at  least,  to 
its  pretensions.  Strictly  speaking,  Natural  Selection  is  not  a 
cause  at  all,  but  is  the  mode  of  operation  of  a  certain  quite 
limited  class  of  causes.*  Natural  Selection  never  made  it 


*  Though  very  limited  in  extent,  this  class  is  marked  out  only  by  the  single  char 
acter,  that  the  efficient  causes  (of  whatever  nature,  whether  the  forces  of  simple 
growth  and  reproduction,  or  the  agency  of  the  human  will),  are  yet  of  such  a  nature 
as  to  act  through  the  principles  of  utility  and  choice.  It  includes  in  its  range, 
therefore,  developments  of  the  simplest  adaptive  organic  characters  on  one  haud> 


294  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

come  to  pass,  as  a  habit  of  nature,  that  an  unsupported  stone 
should  move  downwards  rather  than  upwards.  It  applies  to 
no  part  of  inorganic  nature,  and  is  very  limited  even  in  the 
phenomena  of  organic  life. 

In  his  obvious  anxiety  to  establish  for  the  worth  of  human 
nature  the  additional  dignity  of  metaphysical  isolation,  Mr. 
Wallace  maintains  the  extraordinary  thesis  that  "  the  brain  of 
the  savage  is  larger  than  he  needs  it  to  be  "  ;  from  which  he 
would  conclude  that  there  is  in  the  size  of  the  savage's  brain  a 
special  anticipation  or  prophecy  of  the  civilized  man,  or  even  of 
the  philosopher,  though  the  inference  would  be  far  more  natural, 
and  entirely  consistent  with  Natural  Selection,  that  the  savage 
has  degenerated  from  a  more  advanced  condition.  The  proofs  of 
our  author's  position  consist  in  showing  that  there  is  a  very  slight 

and  the  growths  of  language  and  other  human  customs  on  the  other.  It  has  been 
objected  that  Natural  Selection  does  not  apply  to  the  origin  of  languages,  be 
cause  language  is  an  invention,  and  the  work  of  the  human  will ;  and  it  is  clear, 
indeed,  that  Natural,  as  distinguished  from  Artificial,  Selection  is  not  properly 
the  cause  of  language,  or  of  the  custom  of  speech.  But  to  this  it  is  sufficient  to 
reply,  that  the  contrast  of  Natural  and  Artificial  Selections  is  not  a  contrast  of 
principles,  but  only  of  illustrations,  and  that  the  common  principle  of  "  the  survival 
of  the  fittest  "  is  named  by  Synecdoche  from  the  broader  though  more  obscure 
illustration  of  it.  If  it  can  be  shown  that  the  choice  of  a  word  from  among  many 
words  as  the  name  of  an  object  or  idea,  or  the  choice  of  a  dialect  from  among  many 
varieties  of  speech,  as  the  language  of  literature,  is  a  universal  process  in  the  devel 
opments  of  speech  and  is  determined  by  real,  though  special  grounds  of  fitijess, 
then  this  choice  is  a  proper  illustration  of  the  principle  of  Natural  Selection  ;  and  is 
the  more  so,  with  reference  to  the  name  of  the  principle,  in  proportion  as  the  pro 
cess  and  the  grounds  of  fitness  in  this  choice  differ  from  the  common  volitions  and 
motives  of  men,  or  are  obscured  by  the  imperfections  of  the  records  of  the  past,  or 
by  the  subtleties  of  the  associations  which  have  determined  it  in  the  minds  of 
the  inventors  and  adopters  of  language.  It  is  important,  however,  to  distinguish 
between  the  origins  of  languages  or  linguistic  customs,  which  are  questions  of  philol 
ogy,  and  the  psychological  question  of  the  origin  of  language  in  general,  or  the  origin 
in  human  nature  of  the  inventions  and  uses  of  speech.  Whether  Natural  Selection 
will  serve  to  solve  the  latter  question  remains  to  be  seen.  In  connection,  however, 
with  the  resemblance,  here  noted,  between  the  primitive,  but  regularly  determined 
inventions  of  the  mind  and  Natural  Selection  in  its  narrower  sense,  it  is  interesting 
to  observe  a  corresponding  resemblance  between  the  theories  of  Free- Will  and  Crea 
tion,  which  are  opposed  to  them.  The  objection  that  the  origin  of  languages  does 
not  belong  to  the  inquiries  of  Natural  Seleciion,  because  language  is  an  invention, 
and  the  work  of  Free- Will,  thus  appears  to  be  parallel  to  the  objection  to  Natural 
Selection,  that  it  attempts  to  explain  the  work  of  Creation  ;  and  both  objections 
obviously  beg  the  questions  at  issue.  But  both  objections  have  force  witli  reference 
to  the  real  and  proper  limitations  of  Natural  Selection,  and  to  the  antecedent  con 
ditions  of  its  action. 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  295 

difference  between  the  average  size  of  the  savage's  brain  and  that 
of  the  European,  and  that  even  in  prehistoric  man  the  capacity 
of  the  skull  approaches  very  near  to  that  of  the  modern  man,  as 
compared  to  the  largest  capacity  of  anthropoid  skulls.  Again, 
the  size  of  the  brain  is  a  measure  of  intellectual  power,  as 
proved  by  the  small  size  of  idiotic  brains,  and  the  more  than 
average  size  of  the  brains  of  great  men,  or  "  those  who  com 
bine  acute  perception  with  great  reflective  powers,  strong  pas 
sions,  and  general  energy  of  character."  By  these  considera 
tions  "  the  idea  is  suggested  of  a  surplusage  of  power,  of  an 
instrument  beyond  the  needs  of  its  possessor."  From  a  rather 
artificial  and  arbitrary  measure  of  intellectual  power,  the  scale 
of  marks  in  university  examinations,  as  compared  to  the  range 
of  sizes  in  brains,  Mr.  Wallace  concludes  it  to  be  fairly  inferred, 
"  that  the  savage  possesses  a  brain  capable,  if  cultivated  and 
developed,  of  performing  work  of  a  kind  and  degree  far  beyond 
what  he  ever  requires  it  to  do."  But  how  far  removed  is  this 
conclusion  from  the  idea  that  the  savage  has  more  brains  than 
he  needs  !  Why  may  it  not  be  that  all  that  he  can  do  with  his 
brains  beyond  his  needs  is  only  incidental  to  the  powers  which 
are  directly  serviceable  ?  Of  what  significance  is  it  that  his 
brain  is  twice  as  great  as  that  of  the  man-ape,  while  the  philoso 
pher  only  surpasses  him  one  sixth,  so  long  as  we  have  no  real 
measure  of  the  brain  power  implied  in  the  one  universal  char 
acteristic  of  humanity,  the  power  of  language,  —  that  is,  the 
power  to  invent  and  use  arbitrary  signs  ? 

Mr.  Wallace  most  unaccountably  overlooks  the  significance 
of  what  has  always  been  regarded  as  the  most  important  dis 
tinction  of  the  human  race,  —  its  rationality  as  shown  in  lan 
guage.  He  even  says  that  u  the  mental  requirements  of  sav 
ages,  and  the  faculties  actually  exercised  by  them,  are  very 
little  above  those  of  animals."  We  would  not  call  in  question 
the  accuracy  of  Mr.  Wallace's  observations  of  savages ;  but  we 
can  hardly  accord  equal  credit  to  his  accuracy  in  estimating 
the  mental  rank  of  their  faculties.  No  doubt  the  savage  mind 
seems  very  dull  as  compared  with  the  sagacity  shown  by  many 
animals ;  but  a  psychological  analysis  of  the  faculty  of  lan 
guage  shows  that  even  the  smallest  proficiency  in  it  might 
require  more  brain  power  than  the  greatest  in  any  other 


296  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

direction.  For  this  faculty  implies  a  complete  inversion  of  the 
ordinary  and  natural  orders  of  association  in  the  mind,  or  such 
an  inversion  #s  in  mere  parroting  would  be  implied  by  the  rep 
etition  of  the  words  of  a  sentence  in  an  inverse  order,  —  a  most 
difficult  feat  even  for  a  philosopher.  "  The  power  of  abstract 
reasoning  and  ideal  conception,' '  which  Mr.  Wallace  esteems  as 
a  very  great  advance  on  the  savage's  proficiency,  is  but  another 
step  in  the  same  direction,  and  here,  too,  ce  n'est  que  le  premier 
pas  qui  coute.  It  seems  probable  enough  that  brain  power 
proper,  or  its  spontaneous  and  internal  determinations  of  the 
perceptive  faculties,  should  afford  directly  that  use  or  com 
mand  of  a  sign  which  is  implied  in  language,  and  essentially 
consists  in  the  power  of  turning  back  the  attention  from  a  sug 
gested  fact  or  idea  to  the  suggesting  ones,  with  reference  to 
their  use,  in  place  of  the  naturally  passive  following  and  sub 
serviency  of  the  mind  to  the  orders  of  first  impressions  and 
associations.  By  inverting  the  proportions  which  the  latter 
bear  to  the  forces  of  internal  impressions,  or  to  the  powers  of 
imagination  in  animals,  we  should  have  a  fundamentally  new 
order  of  mental  actions  ;  which,  with  the  requisite  motives  to 
them,  such  as  the  social  nature  of  man  would  afford,  might  go 
*far  towards  defining  the  relations,  both  mental  and  physical, 
of  human  races  to  the  higher  brute  animals.  Among  these  the 
most  sagacious  and  social,  though  they  may  understand  lan 
guage,  or  follow  its  significations,  and  even  by  indirection  ac 
quire  some  of  its  uses,  yet  have  no  direct  power  of  using,  and 
no  power  of  inventing  it. 

But  as  we  do  not  know,  and  have  no  means  of  knowing,  what 
is  the  quantity  of  intellectual  power,  as  measured  by  brains, 
which  even  the  simplest  use  of  language  requires,  how  shall 
we  be  able  to  measure  on  such  a  scale  the  difference  between 
the  savage  and  the  philosopher ;  which  consists,  not  so  much  in 
additional  elementary  faculties  in  the  philosopher,  as  in  a  more 
active  and  persistent  use  of  such  faculties  as  are  common  to 
both  ;  and  depends  on  the  external  inheritances  of  civilization, 
rather  than  on  the  organic  inheritances  of  the  civilized  man  ? 
It  is  the  kind  of  mental  acquisition  of  which  a  race  may  be 
capable,  rather  than  the  amount  which  a  trained  individual 
may  acquire,  that  we  should  suppose  to  be  more  immediately 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  297 

measured  by  the  size  of  the  brain ;  and  Mr.  Wallace  has  not  *• 
shown  that  this  kind  is  not  serviceable  to  the  savage.  Idiots 
have  sometimes  great  powers  of  acquisition  of  a  certain  low 
order  of  facts  and  ideas.  Evidence  upon  this  point,  from  the 
relations  of  intellectual  power  to  the  growth  of  the  brain  in 
children,  is  complicated  in  the  same  way  by  the  fact  that  pow 
ers  of  acquisition  are  with  difficulty  distinguished  from,  and 
are  not  a  proper  measure  of,  the  intellectual  powers,  which  de 
pend  directly  on  organic  conditions,  and  are  independent  of 
an  external  inheritance. 

But  Mr.  Wallace  follows,  in  his  estimations  of  distinct 
mental  faculties,  the  doctrines  of  a  school  of  mental  philoso 
phy  which  multiplies  the  elementary  faculties  of  the  mind  far 
beyond  any  necessity.  Many  faculties  are  regarded  by  this 
school  as  distinct,  which  are  probably  only  simple  combinations 
or  easy  extensions  of  other  faculties.  The  philosopher's  men 
tal  powers  are  not  necessarily  different  in  their  elements  from 
those  which  the  savage  has  and  needs  in  his  struggle  for  ex 
istence,  or  to  maintain  his  position  in  the  scale  of  life  and  the 
resources  on  which  he  has  come  to  depend.  The  philosopher's 
powers  are  not,  it  is  true,  the  direct  results  of  Natural  Selec 
tion,  or  of  utility  ;  but  may  they  not  result  by  the  elementary 
laws  of  mental  natures  and  external  circumstances,  from  facul 
ties  that  are  useful  ?  If  they  imply  faculties  which  are  useless 
to  the  savage,  we  have  still  the  natural  alternative  left  us,  which 
Mr.  Wallace  does  not  consider,  that  savages,  or  all  the  races  of 
savages  now  living,  are  degenerate  men,  and  not  the  proper  rep 
resentatives  of  the  philosopher's  ancestors.  But  this  alterna 
tive,  though  the  natural  one,  does  not  appear  to  us  as  neces 
sary  ;  for  we  are  not  convinced  that  "  the  power  of  conceiving 
eternity  and  infinity,  and  all  those  purely  abstract  notions  of 
form,  number,  and  harmony,  which  play  so  large  a  part  in  the  life 
of  civilized  races,"  are  really  so  "  entirely  outside  of  the  world  of 
thought  of  the  savage  "  as  our  author  thinks.  Are  they  not 
rather  implied  and  virtually  acquired  in  the  powers  that  the 
savage  has  and  needs,  —  his  powers  of  inventing  and  using 
even  the  concrete  terms  of  his  simple  language  ?  The  fact  that 
it  does  not  require  Natural  Selection,  but  only  the  education  of 
the  individual  savage,  to  develop  in  him  these  results,  is  to  us 


298  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

a  proof,  not  that  the  savage  is  specially  provided  with  facul 
ties  beyond  his  -needs,  noF  even  that  he  is  degenerated,  but 
that  mind  itself,  or  elementary  mental  natures,  in  the  savage 
and  throughout  the  whole  sentient  world,  involve  and  imply 
such  relations  between  actual  and  potential  faculties  ;  just  as 
the  elementary  laws  of  physics  involve  many  apparently,  or  at 
first  sight  distinct  and  independent  applications  and  utilities. 
Ought  we  to  regard  the  principle  of  "  suction,"  applied  to  the 
uses  of  life  in  so  many  and  various  animal  organisms,  as 
specially  prophetic  of  the  mechanical  invention  of  the  pump 
and  of  similar  engines  ?  Shall  we  say  that  in  the  power  of 
"  suction"  an  animal  possesses  faculties  that  he  does  not  need  ? 
Natural  Selection  cannot,  it  is  true,  be  credited  with  such  rela 
tions  in  development.  But  neither  can  they  be  attributed  to  a 
special  providence  in  any  intelligible  sense.  They  belong 
rather  to  that  constitution  of  nature,  or  general  providence, 
which  Natural  Selection  presupposes. 

The  theories  of  associational  psychology  are  so  admirably 
adapted  to  the  solution  of  problems,  for  which  Mr.  Wallace 
seems  obliged  to  call  in  thfe  aid  of  miracles,  that  we  are  sur 
prised  he  was  not  led  by  his  studies  to  a  more  careful  consid 
eration  of  them.  Thus  in  regard  to  the  nature  of  the  moral 
sense,  which  Mr.  Wallace  defines  in  accordance  with  the  intui 
tional  theory  as  "  a  feeling,  —  a  sense  of  right  and  wrong,  — 
in  our  nature,  antecedent  to,  and  independent  of,  experiences 
of  utility,"  —  this  sense  is  capable  of  an  analysis  which  meets 
and  answers  very  simply  the  difficulties  he  finds  in  it  on  the 
theory  of  Natural  Selection.  The  existence  of  feelings  of  ap 
proval  and  disapproval,  or  of  likings  and  aversions  to  certain 
classes  of  actions,  and  a  sense  of  obligation,  are  eminently  useful 
in  the  government  of  human  society,  even  among  savages. 
These  feelings  may  be  associated  with  the  really  useful  and  the 
really  harmful  classes  of  actions,  or  they  may  not  be.  Such 
associations  are  not  determined  simply  by  utility,  any  oftener 
than  beliefs  are  by  proper  evidence.  But  utility  tends  to  pro 
duce  the  proper  associations ;  and  in  this,  along  with  the  in 
crease  of  these  feelings  themselves,  consists  the  moral  progress 
of  the  race.  Why  should  not  a  fine  sense  of  honor  and  an  un 
compromising  veracity  be  found,  then,  among  savage  tribes,  as 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  299 

in  certain  instances  cited  by  Mr.  Wallace  ;  since  moral  feelings, 
or  the  motives  to  the  observance  of  rules  of  conduct,  lie  at  the 
foundation  of  even  the  simplest  human  society,  and  rest  directly 
on  the  utility  of  man's  political  nature  ;  and  since  veracity  and 
honor  are  not  merely  useful,  but  indispensable  in  many  rela 
tions,  even  in  savage  lives  ?  Besides,  veracity  being  one  of  the 
earliest  developed  instincts  of  childhood,  can  hardly  with  pro 
priety  be  regarded  as  an  original  moral  instinct,  since  it  ma 
tures  much  earlier  than  the  sense  of  obligation,  or  any  feeling 
of  the  sanctity  of  truth.  It  belongs  rather  to  that  social  and 
intellectual  part  of  human  nature  from  which  language  itself 
arises.  The  desire  of  communication,  and  the  desire  of  com 
municating  the  truth,  are  originally  identical  in  the  ingenuous 
social  nature.  Is  not  this  the  source  of  the  "  mystical  sense 
or  wrong,"  attached  to  untruthfulness,  which  is,  after  all,  re 
garded  by  mankind  at  large  as  so  venial  a  fault  ?  It  needs  but 
little  early  moral  discipline  to  convert  into  a  strong  moral  sen 
timent  so  natural  an  instinct.  Deceitfulness  is  rather  the  ac 
quired  quality,  so  far  as  utility  acts  directly  on  the  develop 
ment  of  the  individual,  and  for  his  advantage ;  *but  the  native 
instinct  of  veracity  is  founded  on  the  more  primitive  utilities  of 
society  and  human  intercourse.  Instead,  then,  of  regarding 
veracity  as  an  original  moral  instinct,  "  antecedent  to,  and  in 
dependent  of,  experiences  of  utility,"  it  appears  to  us  more 
natural  to  regard  it  as  origin'ally  an  intellectual  and  social  in 
stinct,  founded  in*  the  broadest  and  most  fundamental  utilities  of 
human  nature.  The  extension  of  the  moral  nature  beyond  the 
bounds  of  the  necessities  and  utilities  of  society  does  not  re 
quire  a  miracle  to  account  for  it ;  since,  according  to  the  prin 
ciples  of  the  associational  psychology,  it  follows  necessarily 
from  the  elementary  laws  of  the  mind.  The  individual  ex 
periences  of  utility  which  attach  the  moral  feelings  to  rules  of 
conduct  are  more  commonly  those  of  rewards  and  punish 
ments  than  of  the  direct  or  natural  consequences  of  the  con 
duct  itself;  and  associations  thus  formed  come  to  supersede 
all  conscious  reference  to  rational  ends,  and  act  upon  the  will 
in  the  manner  of  an  instinct.  The  uncalculating,  uncompr*o- 
mising  moral  imperative  is  not,  it  is  true,  derived  from  the 
individual's  direct  experiences  of  its  utility  ;  but  neither  does 
VOL.  cxi.  -—  NO.  229.  20 


300  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

the  instinct  of  the  bee,  which  sacrifices  its  life  in  stinging,  bear 
any  relation  to  its  individual  advantage.  Are  we  warranted, 
then,  in  inferring  that  the  sting  is  useless  to  the  bee  ?  Sup 
pose  that  whole  communities  of  bees  should  occasionally  be 
sacrificed  to  their  instinct  of  self-defence,  would  this  prove  their 
instinct  to  be  independent  of  a  past  or  present  utility,  or  to  be 
prophetic  of  some  future  development  of  the  race  ?  Yet  such 
a  conclusion  would  be  exactly  parallel  to  that  which  Mr.  Wal 
lace  draws  from  the  fact  that  savages  sometimes  deal  honorably 
with  their  enemies  to  their  own  apparent  disadvantage.  It  is 
a  universal  law  of  the  organic  world,  and  a  necessary  conse 
quence  of  Natural  Selection,  that  the  individual  comprises  in 
its  nature  chiefly  what  is  useful  to  the  race,  and  only  incident 
ally  what  is  useful  to  itself;  since  it  is  the  race,  and  not -the 
individual,  that  endures  or  is  preserved.  This  contrast  is  the 
more  marked  in  proportion  as  a  race  exhibits  a  complicated 
polity  or  social  form  of  life ;  and  man,  even  in  his  savage 
state,  "  is  more  political  than  any  bee  or  ant."  The  doctrine 
of  Natural  Selection  awakens  a  new  interest  in  the  problems  of 
psychology.  Its  inquiries  are  not  limited  to  the  origin  of  spe 
cies.  "  In  the  distant  future,"  says  Mr.  Darwin,  "  I  see  open 
fields  for  far  more  important  researches.  Psychology  will  be 
based  on  a  new  foundation,  —  that  of  the  necessary  acquire 
ment  of  each  mental  power  and  capacity  by  gradation.  Light 
will  be  thrown  on  the  origin  of  man  and  his  history."  More 
light  we  are  sure  can  be  expected  from  such  researches  than  has 
been  discovered  by  Mr.  Wallace,  in  the  principles  and  analyses 
of  a  mystical  and  metaphysical  psychology. 

The  "  origin  of  consciousness,"  or  of  sensation  and  thought, 
is  relegated  similarly  by  Mr.  Wallace  to  the  immediate  agency 
or  interposition  of  a  metaphysical  cause,  as  being  beyond  the 
province  of  secondary  causes,  which  could  act  to  produce  it 
under  the  principle  of  Natural  Selection.  And  it  is  doubtless 
true,  nay,  unquestionable,  that  sensation  as  a  simple  nature, 
with  the  most  elementary  laws  of  its  activity,  does  really  belong 
to  the  primordial  facts  in  that  constitution  of  nature,  which  is 
presupposed  by  the  principle  of  utility  as  the  ground  or  condi 
tion  of  the  fitnesses  through  which  the  principle  acts.  In  like 
manner  the  elements  of  organization,  or  the  capacities  of  living 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  301 

matter  in  general,  must  be  posited  as  antecedent  to  the  mode  of 
action  which  has  produced  in  it,  and  through  its  elementary  laws, 
such  marvellous  results.  But  if  we  mean  by  "  consciousness  " 
what  the  word  is  often  and  more  properly  used  to  express, — 
that  total  and  complex  structure  of  sensibilities,  thoughts,  and 
emotions  in  an  animal  mind,  which  is  so  closely  related  to  the 
animal's  complex  physical  organization,  —  so  far  is  this  from 
being  beyond  the  province  of  Natural  Selection,  that  it  affords 
one  of  the  most  promising  fields  for  its  future  investigations.* 


*  In  further  illustration  of  the  range  of  the  explanations  afforded  by  the  principle 
of  Natural  Selection,  to  which  we  referred  in  our  note,  page  293,  we  may  instance 
an  application  of  it  to  the  more  special  psychological  problem  of  the  develop 
ment  of  the  individual  mind  by  its  own  experiences,  which  presupposes,  of 
course,  the  innate  powers  and  mental  faculties  derived  (whether  naturally  or  su- 
pernaturally)  from  the  development  of  the  race.  Among  these  native  faculties  of 
the  individual  mind  is  the  power  of  reproducing  its  own  past  experiences  in  mem 
ory  and  belief;  and  this  is,  at  least,  analogous,  as  we  have  said,  to  the  reproductive 
powers  of  physical  organisms,  and  like  these  is  in  itself  an  unlimited,  expansive 
power  of  repetition.  Human  beliefs,  like  human  desires,  are  naturally  illimitable. 
The  generalizing  instinct  is  native  to  the  mind.  It  is  not  the  result  of  habitual  ex 
periences,  as  is  commonly  supposed,  but  acts  as  well  on  single  experiences,  which 
are  capable  of  producing,  when  unchecked,  the  most  unbounded  beliefs  and  expec 
tations  of  the  future.  The  only  checks  to  such  unconditional  natural  beliefs  are 
other  and  equally  unconditional  and  natural  beliefs,  or  the  contradictions  and  limit 
ing  conditions  of  experience.  Here,  then,  is  a  close  analogy,  at  least,  to  those  funda 
mental  facts  of  the  organic  world  on  which  the  law  of  Natural  Selection  is  based  ; 
the  facts,  namely,  of  the  "  rapid  increase  of  organisms,"  limited  only  by  "  the  con 
ditions  of  existence,"  and  by  competition  in  that  "  struggle  for  existence  "  which 
results  in  the  "  survival  of  the  fittest."  As  the  tendency  to  an  unlimited  increase 
in  existing  organisms  is  held  in  check  only  by  those  conditions  of  their  existence 
which  are  chiefly  comprised  in  the  like  tendencies  of  other  organisms  to  unlimited 
increase,  and  is  thus  maintained  (so  long  as  external  conditions  remain  unchanged) 
in  an  unvarying  balance  of  life ;  and  as  this  balance  adjusts  itself  to  slowly  changing 
external  conditions,  so,  in  the  history  of  the  individual  mind,  beliefs  which  spring 
spontaneously  from  simple  and  single  experiences,  and  from  a  naturally  unlimited 
tendency  to  generalization,  are  held  mutually  in  check,  and  in  their  harmony- 
represent  the  properly  balanced  experiences  and  knowledges  of  the  mind,  and  by 
adaptive  changes  are  kept  in  accordance  with  changing  external  conditions,  or  with 
the  varying  total  results  in  the  memory  of  special  experiences.  This  mutual  limita 
tion  of  belief  by  belief,  in  which  consists  so  large  a  part  of  their  proper  evidence,  is  so 
prominent  a  feature  in  the  beliefs  of  the  rational  mind,  that  philosophers  had  failed 
to  discover  their  true  nature,  as  elementary  facts,  until  this  was  pointed  out  by  the 
greatest  of  living  psychologists,  Professor  Alexander  Bain.  The  mutual  tests  and 
checks  of  beliefs  have,  indeed,  always  appeared  to  a  great  majority  of  philosophers  as 
their  only  proper  evidence;  and  beliefs  themselves  have  appeared  as  purely  intel 
lectual  phases  of  the  mind.  But  Bain  has  defined  them,  in  respect  to  their  ultimate 


302  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

Whatever  the  results  of  such  investigations,  we  may  rest  as 
sured  that  they  will  not  solve  ;  will  never  even  propound  the 
problem  peculiar  to  metaphysics  (if  it  can  properly  be  called  a 
problem),  the  origin  of  sensation  or  simple  consciousness,  the 
problem  par  excellence  of  pedantic  garrulity  or  philosophical 
childishness.  Questions  of  the  special  physical  antecedents, 
concomitants,  and  consequents  of  special  sensations  will  doubt 
less  continue  to  be  the  legitimate  objects  of  empirical  researches 
and  of  important  generalizations  ;  and  such  researches  may 
succeed  in  reducing  all  other  facts  of  actual  experience,  all  our 
knowledge  of  nature,  and  all  our  thoughts  and  emotions  to  in 
telligible  modifications  of  these  simple  and  fundamental  exist 
ences  ;  but  the  attempt  to  reduce  sensation  to  anything  but  sen 
sation  is  as  gratuitous  and  as  devoid  of  any  suggestion  or  guid 
ance  of  experience,  as  the  attempt  to  reduce  the  axioms  of  the 
mathematical  or  mechanical  sciences  to  simpler  orders  of  uni- 


natures,  as  phases  of  the  will ;  or  as  the  tendencies  we  have  to  act  on  mere  experi 
ence,  or  to  act,  on  our  simplest,  most  limited  experiences.  They  are  tendencies, 
however,  which  become  so  involved  in  intellectual  developments,  and  in  their  mu 
tual  limitations,  that  their  ultimate  results  in  rational  beliefs  have  very  naturally  ap 
peared  to  most  philosophers  as  purely  intellectual  facts  ;  and  their  real  genesis  in 
experience  has  been  generally  discredited,  with  the  exception  of  what  are  desig 
nated  specially  as  "empirical  beliefs." 

It  may  be  objected  that  the  generative  process  we  have  here  described  bears  only 
a  remote  and  fanciful  analogy,  and  not  an  essential  resemblance,  to  Natural  Selec 
tion  iu  the  organic  world.  But  to  this  it  is,  perhaps,  sufficient  to  reply  (as  in 
the  case  of  the  origin  of 'language),  that  if  "  the  survival  of  the  fittest"  is  a  true 
expression  of  the  law,  —  it  is  to  Mr.  Herbert  Spencer  we  owe  this  most  precise 
definition,  —  then  the  development  of  the  individual  mind  presents  a  true  example 
of  it ;  for  our  knowledges  and  rational  beliefs  result,  truly  and  literally,  from  the 
survival  of  the  fittest  among  our  original  and  spontaneous  beliefs.  It  is  only  by 
a  figure  of  speech,  it  is  true,  that  this  "  survival  of  the  fittest "  can  be  described 
as  the  result  of  a  "struggle  for  existence"  among  our  primitive  beliefs;  but 
this  description  is  equally  figurative  as  applied  to  Natural  Selection  in  the  organic 
world. 

The  application  of  the  principle  to  mental  development  takes  for  granted,  as  we 
have  said,  the  faculties  with  which  the  individual  is  born,  and  in  the  human  mind 
these  include  that  most  efficient  auxiliary,  the  faculty  of  using  and  inventing  lan 
guage.  How  Natural  Selection  could  have  originated  this  is  not  so  easy  to  trace, 
and  is  an  almost  wholly  speculative  question  ;  but  if  the  faculty  cou.»ists  essentially, 
as  we  have  supposed,  in  a  preponderance  of  the  active  and  spontaneous  over  the  pas 
sive  powers  of  the  brain,  effecting  the  turning-back  or  reflective  action  of  the  mind, 
while  the  latter  simply  result  in  the  following  out  or  sagacious  habir,  we  see  at  least 
that  the  contrast  need  not  depend  on  the  absolute  size  of  the  brain,  but  only  on  the 


1870.]  Lirfiits  of  Natural  Selection.  303 

versal  facts.  In  one  sense  material  phenomena,  or  physical 
objective  states,  are  causes  or  effects  of  sensations,  bearing  as 
they  do  the  invariable  relations  to  them  of  antecedents,  or  con 
comitants,  or  consequents.  But  these  are  essentially  empirical 
relations,  explicable  perhaps  by  more  and  more  generalized  em 
pirical  laws,  but  approaching  in  this  way  never  one  step  nearer 
to  an  explanation  of  material  conditions  by  mental  laws,  or  of 
mental  natures  by  the  forces  of  matter.  Matter  and  mind  co 
exist.  There  are  no  scientific  principles  by  which  either  can  be 
determined  to  be  the  cause  of  the  other.  Still,  so  far  as  scientific 
evidence  goes,  mind  exists  in  direct  and  peculiar  relations  to  a 
certain  form  of  matter,  the  organic,  which  is  not  a  different  kind, 
though  the  properties  of  no  other  forms  are  in  themselves  capable, 
so  far  as  scientific  observation  has  yet  determined,  of  giving  rise 
to  it.  The  materials  and  the  forces  of  organisms  are  both  derived 
from  other  forms  of  matter,  as  well  as  from  the  organic  ;  but 
the  organic  form  itself  appears  to  be  limited  to  the  productive 

proportion  of  the  powers  that  depend  on  its  quantity  to  those  that  depend  on  its 
quality.  We  should  naturally  suppose,  therefore,  that  the  earliest  men  were  proba 
bly  not  very  sagacious  creatures,  perhaps  much  less  so  than  the  present  uncivilized 
races.  But  they  were,  most  likely,  very  social ;  even  more  so,  perhaps,  than  the  sa 
gacious  savage ;  for  there  was  needed  a  strong  motive  to  call  this  complicated  and 
difficult  mental  action  into  exercise  ;  and  it  is  even  now  to  be  observed  that  sagaci 
ty  and  sociability  are  not  commonly  united  in  high  degrees  even  among  civilized 
men.  Growths  both  in  the  quantity  and  quality  of  the  brain  are,  therefore,  equally 
probable  in  the  history  of  human  development,  with  always  a  preponderance  of  the 
advantages  which  depend  upon  quantity.  But  the  present  superiority  of  the  most 
civilized  races,  so  far  as  it  is  independent  of  any  external  inheritance  of  arts,  knowl 
edges,  and  institutions,  would  appear  to  depend  chiefly  upon  the  quality  of  their 
brains,  and  upon  characteristics  belonging  to  their  moral  and  emotional  natures 
rather  than  the  intellectual,  since  the  intellectual  acquisitions  of  civilization  are 
more  easily  communicated  by  education  to  the  savage  than  the  refinements  of  its 
moral  and  emotional  characteristics.  Though  all  records  and  traces  of  this  devel 
opment  are  gone,  and  a  wide  gulf  separates  the  lowest  man  from  the  highest  brute 
animal,  yet  elements  exist  by  which  we  may  trace  the  succession  of  utilities  and  ad 
vantages  that  have  determined  the  transition.  The  most  essential  are  those  of  the 
social  nature  of  man,  involving  mutual  assistance  in  the  struggle  for  existence.  In 
strumental  to  these  are  his  mental  powers,  developed  by  his  social  nature,  and  by 
the  reflective  character  of  his  brain's  action  into  a  general  and  common  intelligence, 
instead  of  the  specialized  instincts  and  sagacities  characteristic  of  other  animals ; 
and  from  these  came  language,  and  thence  all  the  arts,  knowledges,  governments, 
traditions,  all  the  external  inheritances,  which,  reacting  on  his  social  nature, 
have  induced  the  sentiments  of  morality,  worship,  and  refinement ;  at  which  gazing 
as  in  a  mirror  he  sees  his  past,  and  thinks  it  his  future. 


304  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

powers  of  matters  and  forces  which  already  have  this  form. 
The  transcendental  doctrine  of  development  (which  is  not 
wholly  transcendental,  since  it  is  guided,  at  least  vaguely,  by  the 
scientific  principles  of  cause  and  effect,  or  by  the  continuities  and 
uniformities  of  natural  phenomena)  assumes  that  in  the  past 
course  of  nature  the  forms  as  well  as  the  materials  and  forces 
of  organic  matter  had  at  one  time  a  causal  connection  with  other 
forms  of  material  existence.  Mental  natures,  and  especially 
the  simplest,  or  sensations,  would  have  had,  according  to  this 
assumption,  a  more  universal  relation  of  immediate  connection 
than  we  now  know  with  properties  of  the  sort  that  we  call 
material.  Still,  by  the  analogies  of  experience  they  cannot  be 
regarded  as  having  been  either  causes  or  effects  of  them.  Our 
ignorances,  or  the  as  yet  unexplored  possibilities  of  nature,  seem 
far  preferable  to  the  vagueness  of  this  theory,  which,  in  addition 
to  the  continuities  and  uniformities  universally  exhibited  in 
nature,  assumes  transcendentally,  as  a  universal  first  principle, 
the  law  of  progressive  change,  or  a  law  which  is  not  universally 
exemplified  by  the  course  of  nature.  We  say,  and  say  truly,  that 
a  stone  has  no  sensation,  since  it  exhibits  none  of  the  signs  that 
indicate  the  existence  of  sensations.  It  is  not  only  a  purely 
objective  existence,  like  everything  else  in  nature,  except  our 
own  individual  self-consciousness,  but  its  properties  indicate  to 
us  no  other  than  this  purely  objective  existence,  unless  it  be  the 
existence  of  God.  To  suppose  that  its  properties  could  pos 
sibly  result  in  a  sensitive  nature,  not  previously  existing  or  co 
existing  with  them,  is  to  reason  entirely  beyond  the  guidance 
and  analogies  of  experience.  It  is  a  purely  gratuitous  suppo 
sition,  not  only  metaphysical  or  transcendental,  but  also  mate 
rialistic  ;  that  is,  it  is  not  only  asking  a  foolish  question,  but  giv 
ing  a  still  more  foolish  answer  to  it.  In  short,  the  metaphysical 
problem  may  be  reduced  to  an  attempt  to  break  down  the  most 
fundamental  antithesis  of  all  experience,  by  demanding  to  know 
of  its  terms  which  of  them  is  the  other.  To  this  sort  of  fatuity 
belongs,  we  think,  the  mystical  doctrine  which  Mr.  Wallace  is 
inclined  to  adopt,  "  that  FORCE  is  a  product  of  MIND  "  ;  which 
means,  so  far  as  it  is  intelligible,  that  forces,  or  the  physical  an 
tecedents  and  conditions  of  motion  (apprehended,  it  is  true, 
along  with  motion  itself,  through  our  sensations  and  volitions), 


1870.]  Limits  oj  Natural  Selection.  305 

yet  bear  to  our  mental  natures  the  still  closer  relation  of 
resemblance  to  the  prime  agency  of  the  Will ;  or  it  means  that 
"  all  force  is  probably  will  force."  Not  only  does  this*assumed 
mystical  resemblance,  expressed  by  the  word  u  will-force,"  con 
tradict  the  fundamental  antithesis  of  subject  and  object  phe 
nomena  (as  the  word  "  mind  matter"  would),  but  it  fails  to  re 
ceive  any  confirmation  from  the  law  of  the  correlation  of  the 
physical  forces.  All  the  motions  of  animals,  both  voluntary  and 
involuntary,  are  traceable  to  the  efficiency  of  equivalent  material 
forces  in  the  animal's  physical  organization.  The  cycles  of 
equivalent  physical  forces  are  complete,  even  when  their  courses 
lie  through  the  voluntary  actions  of  animals,  without  the  intro 
duction  of  conscious  or  mental  conditions.  The  sense  of  effort 
is  riot  a  form  of  force.  The  painful  or  pleasurable  sensations 
that  accompany  the  conversions  of  force  in  conscious  volitions 
are  not  a  consciousness  of  this  force  itself,  nor  even  a  proper 
measure  of  it.  The  Will  is  not  a  measurable  quantity  of  ener 
gy,  with  its  equivalents  in  terms  of  heat,  or  falling-force,  or 
chemical  affinity,  or  the  energy  of  motion,  unless  we  identify 
it  with  the  vital  energies  of  the  organism,  which  are,  however 
(unfortunately  for  this  hypothesis),  the  causes  of  the  involun 
tary  movements  of  an  animal,  as  well  as  of  its  proper  volitions 
considered  from  their  physical  side. 

But  Mr.  Wallace  is  inclined  to  the  opinion  that  the  Will  is 
an  incident  force,  regulating  and  controlling  the  action  of  the 
physical  forces  of  the  vital  machine,  but  contributing,  even  in 
this  capacity,  some  part  at  least  to  the  actual  moving  forces  of 
the  living  frame.  He  says  :  — 

"  However  delicately  a  machine  may  be  constructed,  with  the  most 
exquisitely  contrived  detents  to  release  a  weight  or  spring  by  the  exer 
tion  of  the  smallest  possible  amount  of  force,  some  external  force  will 
always  be'required;  so  in  the  animal  machine,  however  minute  may 
be  the  changes  required  in  the  cells  or  fibres  of  the  brain,  to  set 
in  motion  the  nerve  currents  which  loosen  or  excite  the  pent-up 
forces  of  certain  muscles,  some  farce  must  be  required  to  effect  those 
changes." 

And  this  force  he  supposes  to  be  the  Will.  This  is  the  most 
intelligible  materialism  we  have  ever  met  with  in  the  discus 
sions  of  this  subject.  It  is  true  that  in  a  machine,  not  only  the 


306  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

main  efficient  forces,  but  also  the  incident  and  regulating  ones, 
are  physical  forces ;  and  however  small  the  latter  may  be, 
they  are  'still  of  the  same  nature,  and  are  comparable  in  amount 
with  the  main  efficient  forces.  But  is  not  this  one  of  the  most 
essential  differences  between  a  machine  and  a  sensitive  organ 
ism  ?  Is  it  impossible,  then,  that  nature  has  contrived  an  in 
finitely  more  perfect  machine  than  human  art  can  invent,  — 
machinery  which  involves  the  powers  of  art  itself,  if  it  be 
proper  to  call  that  contrivance  a  machine,  in  which  the  regu 
lating  causes  are  of  a  wholly  different  nature  from  the  efficient 
forces  ?  May  it  not  be  that  sensations  and  mental  conditions, 
generally,  are  regulating  causes  which  add  nothing,  like  the 
force  of  the  hand  of  the  engineer, to  the  powers  which  he  con 
trols  in  his  machine,  ami  subtract  nothing,  as  an  automatic 
apparatus  does,  from  such  powers  in  the  further  regulation  of 
the  machine  ?  We  may  not  be  able  to  understand  how  such 
regulation  is  possible ;  how  sensations  and  other  mental  con 
ditions  can  restrain,  excite,  and  combine  the  conversions  of 
physical  forces  in  the  cycles  into  which  they  themselves  do  not 
enter  ;  though  there  is  a  type  of  such  regulation  in  the  princi 
ples  of  theoretical  mechanics,  in  the  actions  of  forces  which  do 
not  affect  the  quantities  of  the  actual  or  potential  energies  of  a 
system  of  moving  bodies,  but  simply  the  form  of  the  move 
ment,  as  in  the  rod  of  the  simple  pendulum.  Such  regulation 
in  the  sensitive  organism  is  more  likely  to  be  an  ultimate  inex 
plicable  fact ;  but  it  is  clear  that  even  in  a  machine  the  amounts 
of  the  regulating  forces  bear  no  definite  relations  to  the  powers 
they  control,  and  might,  so  far  as  these  are  directly  concerned, 
be  reduced  to  nothing  as  forces  ;  and  in  many  cases  they  are 
reduced  to  a  minimum  of  the  force  of  friction.  They  must, 
however,  be  something  in  amount  in  a  machine,  because  they 
are  physical,  and,  like  all  physical  forces,  must  be  derived  in 
quantity  from  pre-existing  forms  of  force.  To  infer  from  this 
that  the  Will  must  add  something  to  the  forces  of  the  organism 
is,  therefore,  to  assume  for  it  a  material  nature.  But  Mr.  Wal 
lace  escapes,  or  appears  to  think  (as  others  think  who  hold 
this  view)  that  he  escapes,  from  complete  materialism  by  the 
doctrine  of  the  freedom  of  the  Will.  Though  he  makes  the  Will 
an  efficient  physical  force,  he  does  not  allow  it  to  be  a  physical 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  307 

effect.  In  other  words,  he  regards  the  Will  as  an  absolute 
source  of  physical  energy,  continually  adding,  though  in  small 
amounts,  to  the  store  of  the  forces  of  nature  ;  a  sort  of  mo 
lecular  leakage  of  energy  from  an  absolute  source  into  the 
nervous  systems  of  animals,  or,  at  least,  of  men.  This,  though 
in  our  opinion  an  unnecessary  and  very  improbable  hypothesis, 
is  not  inconceivable.  It  is  improbable,  inasmuch  as  it  denies 
to  the  Will  a  character  common  to  the  physical  forces  with 
which  the  Will  is  otherwise  assimilated  by  this  theory,  —  the 
character,  namely,  of  being  an  effect  in  measurable  amount  as 
well  as  a  cause,  or  the  character  of  belonging  to  cycles  of 
changes  related  by  invariable  quantities  ;  but  as  we  do  not  re 
gard  the  conservation  of  force  as  a  necessary  law  of  the  uni 
verse,  we  are  able  to  comprehend  Mr.  Wallace's  position.  It  is 
the  metaphysical  method  of  distinguishing  a  machine  from  a 
sensitive  organism.  But  we  do  not  see  why  Mr.  Wallace  is 
not  driven  by  it  to  the  dilemma  of  assuming  free-wills  for  all 
sentient  organisms  ;  or  else  of  assuming,  with  Descartes,  that 
all  but  men  are  machines.  The  latter  alternative  would,  doubt 
less,  redound  most  effectively  to  the  metaphysical  dignity  of 
human  nature.  Mr.  Wallace  appears  to  think,  that  unless  we 
can  attribute  to  the  Will  some  efficiency  or  quantity  of  energy, 
its  agency  must  be  regarded  as  a  nullity,  and  our  apparent 
consciousness  of  its  influence  as  an  illusion  ;  but  this  opinion 
appears  to  be  based  on  the  still  broader  assumption,  which 
seems  to  us  erroneous,  that  all  causation  is  reducible  to  the 
conversions  of  equivalent  physical  energies.  It  may  be  true 
(at  least  we  are  not  prepared  to  dispute  the  assumption)  that 
every  case  of  real  causation  involves  such  conversions  or 
changes  in  forms  of  energy,  or  that  every  effect  involves  chan 
ges  of  position  and  motion.  Nevertheless,  every  case  of  real 
causation  may  still  involve  also  another  mode  of  causation. 
To  us  the  conception  is  much  simpler  than  our  author's  theory, 
and  far  more  probable  that  the  phenomena  of  conscious  volition 
involve  in  themselves  no  proper  efficiencies  or  forces  coming 
under  the  law  of  the  conservation  of  force,  but  are  rather 
natural  types  of  causes,  purely  and  absolutely  regulative,  which 
add  nothing  to,  and  subtract  nothing  from,  the  quantities  of 
natural  forces.  No  doubt  there  is  in  the  actions  of  the  nervous 


308  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

system  a  much  closer  resemblance  than  this  to  a  machine.  No 
doubt  it  is  automatically  regulated,  as  well  as  moved,  by.  physi 
cal  forces ;  but  this  is  probably  just  in  proportion  as  its  agency 
—  as  in  our  habits  and  instincts  —  is  removed  from  our 
conscious  control.  All  this  machinery  is  below,  beyond,  ex 
ternal,  or  foreign  to  our  consciousness.  The  profoundest,  most 
attentive  introspection  gains  not  a  glimpse  of  its  activity,  nor 
do  we  ever  dream  of  its  existence ;  but  both  by  the  laws  of 
its  operations,  and  by  the  means  through  which  we  become 
aware  of  its  existence,  it  stands  in  the  broadest,  most  funda 
mental  contrast  to  our  mental  natures  ;  and  these,  so  far  from 
furnishing  a  type  of  physical  efficiency  in  our  conscious  voli 
tions,  seem  to  us  rather  in  accordance  with  their  general 
contrast  with  material  phenomena  to  afford  a  type  of  purely 
regulative  causes,  or  of  an  absolutely  forceless  and  unresisted 
control  and  regulation  of  those  forces  of  nature  which  are 
comprised  in  the  powers  of  organic  life.  Perhaps  a  still 
higher  type  of  such  regulation  is  to  be  found  in  those  "  laws  of 
nature,"  which,  without  adding  to,  or  subtracting  from,  the 
real  forces  of  nature,  determine  the  order  of  their  conversions 
by  "fixed,  stated,  or  settled "  rules  of  succession  ;  and  these 
may  govern  also,  and  probably  do  govern,  the  successions  of  our 
mental  or  self-conscious  states,  both  in  themselves  and  in  their 
relations  to  material  conditions.  Simple,  absolute,  invariable 
rules  of  succession  in  phenomena,  both  physical  and  mental, 
constitute  the  most  abstract  conception  we  can  have  of  causal 
relations ;  but  they  appear  under  two  chief  classes,  the  phys 
ical  laws  which  determine  the  possible  relations  of  the  forms  of 
force,  and  those  which  are  also  concerned  in  the  still  further 
determination  of  its  actual  orders  of  succession,  or  which,  by 
their  combinations  in  the  intricate  web  of  uniformities  in 
nature,  both  mental  and  physical,  determine  the  events  in  par 
ticular  that  in  relation  to  the  laws  of  force  are  only  determined 
in  general.  The  proper  laws  of  force,  or  of  the  conversions  of 
energy,  are  concerned  exclusively  with  relations  in  space.  Re 
lations  in  time  are  governed  by  the  other  class  of  laws.  Thus, 
in  the  abstract  theory  of  the  pendulum,  the  phenomena  of 
force  involved  are  limited  simply  to  the  vertical  rise  and  fall 
of  the  weight,  upon  which  alone  the  amounts  of  its  motions 


1870.]  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  309 

depend.  The  times  of  its  vibrations  are  determined  by  the 
regulating  length  of  the  rod,  which  in  theory  adds  nothing  to, 
and  subtracts  nothing  from,  the  efficient  mutually  convertible 
forces  of  motion  and  gravity.  What  is  here  assumed  in  theory 
to  be  true,  we  assume  to  be  actually  and  absolutely  true  of 
mental  agencies. 

But  it  may  be  said,  and  it  often  is  said,  "  that  this  theory  of 
the  Will's  agency  is  directly  contradicted  in  both  its  features 
by  consciousness ;  that  we  are  immediately  conscious  both  of 
energy  and  freedom  in  willing."  There  is  much  in  our  voli 
tional  consciousness  to  give  countenance  to  this  contradiction ; 
but  it  is  only  such  as  dreams  give  to  contradictions  of  rational 
experience.  The  words  "  force,"  "  energy,"  "  effort,"  "  resist 
ance,"  "  conflict,"  all  point  to  states  of  feeling  in  our  volitional 
consciousness,  which  seem  to  a  superficial  observation  to  be 
true  intuitions  of  spontaneous  self-originated  causes ;  and  it  is 
only  when  these  states  of  feeling  are  tested  by  the  scientific 
definitions  and  the  objective  measures  of  forces,  and  by  the 
orders  of  the  conversions  of  force,  that  they  are  found  to  be 
only  vague,  subjective  accompaniments,  instead  of  distinct  ob 
jective  apprehensions  or  perceptions  of  what  "force"  signifies 
in  science.  Such  tests  prove  them  to  be  like  the -complemen 
tary  or  'subjective  colors  of  vision.  In  one  sense  they  are  intu 
itions  of  force,  our  only  intuitions  of  it  (as  the  aspects  of 
nature  are  our  only  intuitions  of  the  system  of  the  world)  ;  but 
they  are  not  true  perceptions,  since  they  do  not  afford,  each 
feeling  in  itself,  definite  and  invariable  indications  of  force  as 
an  objective  existence,  or  as  affecting  all  minds  alike.  Even 
the  sense  of  weight  is  no  proper  measure  of  weight  as  an  ele 
ment  of  force ;  and  the  muscular  effort  of  lifting  is  only  a 
vague  and  variable  perception  of  this  conversion  of  force,  and 
does  not  afford  even  a  hint  of  the  great  law  of  the  conserva 
tion  and  convertibility  of  forces,  but,  on  the  contrary,  seems  to 
contradict  it.  The  muscular  feeling  of  resistance  to  motion  or 
,to  a  change  of  motion  is  an  equally  vague  measure  of  inertia. 
Indeed,  the  feelings  of  weight  and  resistance,  which  are  often 
regarded  as  intuitions  of  gravity  and  inertia,  are  insusceptible 
of  precise  measurement  or  numerical  comparison ;  and  though 
capable  of  being  trained  to  some  degree  of  precision  in  esti- 


310  Limits  of  Natural  Selection.  [Oct. 

mating  what  is  properly  measured  by  other  means,  they  could 
never  have  revealed  through  their  unaided  indications  the  law 
of  the  fixed  and  universal  proportionality  of  these  two  forces. 
The  feeling  of  effort  itself  (more  or  less  intense,  and  more  or 
less  painful,  according  to  circumstances,  which  are  quite  irrel 
evant  to  its  apparent  effect)  appears  by  the  testimony  of  con 
sciousness  to  be  the  immediate  cause  of  the  work  which  is 
done,  —  work  really  done  by  forces  in  the  vital  organism, 
which  only  the  most  recondite  researches  of  science  have  dis 
closed.  But  if  this  much-vaunted  authority  of  immediate  con 
sciousness  blunders  so  in  even  the  simplest  cases,  how  can  our 
author  or  any  judicious  thinker  trust  its  unconfirmed,  unsup 
ported  testimony  in  regard  to  the  agency  of  the  Will  ?  Is  it 
not  like  trusting  the  testimony  of  the  senses  as  to  the  immo 
bility  of  the  earth  ? 

With  hardly  a  point,  therefore,  of  Mr.  Wallace's  concluding 
essay  are  we  able  to  agree  ;  and  this  impresses  us  the  more,  since 
we  find  nothing  in  the  rest  of  his  book  which  appears  to  us  to 
call  for  serious  criticism,  but  many  things,  on  the  contrary, 
which  command  our  most  cordial  admiration.  We  account  for 
it  by  the  supposition  that  his  metaphysical  views,  carefully  ex 
cluded  from  his  scientific  work,  are  the  results  of  an  earlier 
and  less  severe  training  than  that  which  has  secured  to  us  his 
valuable  positive  contributions  to  the  theory  of  Natural  Selec 
tion.  Mr.  Wallace  himself  is  fully  aware  of  this  contrast,  and 
anticipates  a  scornful  rejection  of  his  theory  by  many  who  in 
other  respects  agree  with  him. 

The  doctrines  of  the  special  and  prophetic  providences  and 
decrees  of  God,  and  of  the  metaphysical  isolation  of  human 
nature,  are  based,  after  all,  on  barbaric  conceptions  of  dignity, 
which  are  restricted  in  their  application  by  every  step  forward 
in  the  progress  of  science.  And  the  sense  of  security  they 
give  us  of  the  most  sacred  things  is  more  than  replaced  by  the 
ever-growing  sense  of  the  universality  of  inviolable  laws,  —  laws 
that  underlie  our  sentiments  and  desires,  as  well  as  all  that 
these  can  rationally  regard  in  the  outer  world.  It  is  unfortu 
nate  that  the  prepossessions  of  religious  sentiment  in  favor  of 
metaphysical  theories  should  make  the  progress  of  science 
always  seem  like  an  indignity  to  religion,  or  a  detraction  from 


1870.]  The  Method  of  History.  311 

what  is  held  as  most  sacred;  yet  the  responsibility  for  this 
belongs  neither  to  the  progress  of  science  nor  to  true  religious 
sentiment,  but  to  a  false  conservatism,  an  irrational  respect 
for  the  ideas  and  motives  of  a  philosophy  which  finds  it  more 
and  more  difficult  with  every  advance  of  knowledge  to  recon 
cile  its  assumptions  with  facts  of  observation. 

CHAUNCEY  WRIGHT. 


ART.  III.  —  THE  METHOD  OF  HISTORY. 

HISTORY,  in  the  sense  of  a  systematic  survey  of  the  progress 
of  society,  based  on  the  principle  of  a  necessary  order  of  human 
development,  is  emphatically  a  modern  science.  The  ancients 
had  no  history  in  this  sense  of  the  term,  no  "  universal " 
history  as  distinguished  from  the  history  of  single  nations. 
They  recounted  the  acts  or  described  the  fortunes  of  tribes  and 
states,  but  had  nothing  to  say  of  the  human  family.  They 
knew  no  human  family.  They  knew  only  Greeks  and  Barba 
rians,  Romans  and  Outsiders  (exteri),  Jews  and  Gentiles. 
Polybius,  indeed,  called  his  history  Kado\iKr),  universal,  but 
only  as  comprehending  in  its  survey  of  Roman  affairs  some 
account  of  the  nations  with  which  Rome  came  in  contact. 
His  starting-point  is  Rome,  not  man.  No  classic  historio 
grapher,  from  Herodotus  to  Herodian,  has  attempted  a  history 
of  man. 

In  one  remarkable  instance,  however,  the  idea  of  such  a 
history,  and  with  it,  of  a  human  family,  is  distinctly  recognized. 
In  the  Biblical  Book  of  Genesis  we  have  the  beginning  of  a 
history  of  man,  but  one  which  stops  short  with  the  mythic  age 
of  the  world.  Biblical  history  brings  man  to  the  building  of 
Babel,  or  the  period  of  greatest  concentration,  succeeded  by 
disruption  and  dispersion,  and  then,  dismissing  the  theme",  con 
fines  itself  to  the  single  Hebrew  line.  Brief  and  fragmentary 
as  the  narrative  is,  these  first  chapters  of  the  Bible  contain 
more  important  contributions  to  the  science  of  history  than  all 
the  classics. 


312  The  Method  of  History.  [Oct. 

Christianity,  by  intoning  the  brotherhood  of  man,  awakened 
a  new  interest  in  human  destiny.  The  Christian  Fathers  mani 
fest  a  truer  appreciation  of  the  unity  of  the  race.  Bunsen  calls 
Clement  of  Alexandria  "  the  first  Christian  philosopher  of  the 
history  of  mankind-."  St.  Augustine's  "  City  of  God  "  em 
braces  in  its  scope  the  whole  human  race  as  the  subject  of 
divine  education,  and  distributes  the  ages  of  man  in  six  days 
of  a  thousand  years  each,  to  end  with  the  millennium. 

Of  the  historiographers  of  the  Middle  Age  the  Western  are 
simply  chroniclers,*  and  the  Byzantines,  immensely  important 
in  their  line,  confine  themselves,  with  one  or  two  exceptions,! 
to  the  Lower  Empire. 

With  the  impulse  given  to  the  human  mind  by  the  stirring 
events  of  the  fifteenth  and  sixteenth  centuries,  this  branch  of 
science  blossoms  into  new  significance.  The  astounding  dis 
coveries  of  the  great  navigators  who  solved  the  "  ocean-secret," 
and  lifted  the  veil  from  what  till  then  had  been  considered  the 
night  side  of  the  globe,  the  enlarged  geographic  and  ethno 
graphic  views  and  the  wider  survey  of  human  kind,  resulting 
from  these  discoveries,  combining  with  the  recent  "  Revival  of 
Letters  "  and  the  Saxon  Reformation  of  the  Church,  gave  to 
history  not  only  a  new  impulse,  but  a  new  direction.  No  longer 
partial,  local,  it  becomes  encyclopedic,  cosmopolitan.  The 
writers  of  history  task  themselves  with  new  and  higher  aims, 
evincing  a  new-born  consciousness  of  unity  and  integrity  per 
vading  all  the  epochs  and  all  the  races  and  generations  of 
man.  The  study  of  history  becomes  academic,  and  Torsellino's 
"  Epitome  Historiarum  "  is  used  as  a  text-book  in  the  univer 
sities  of  Europe. 

It  was  not,  however,  until  after  the  lapse  of  another  century, 
that  the  fundamental  principle  of  all  history  was  adequately 
stated.  It  was  not  till  then  that  the  discovery  was  made  of  a 
science  of  history.  For  this  science  we  are  indebted  to  Italy. 
The  country  which  unlocked  the  New  World  was  the  first  to 

*  Such  are  Eginhard,  Paulus  Diaconus,  William  of  Malmesbury,  Gregory  of 
Tours,  Albert  of  Aix,  William  of  Tyre,  Geoffrey  de  Villehardouin,  Froissart,  and 
Matthew  Paris. 

t  Zonaras  wrote  a  "  History  of  the  World  "  ;  Glycas,  a  "  History  of  the  World 
from  the  Creation  to  the  Death  of  Alexius  Comnenus  ";  Zosimus,  a  "  History  of 
the  Roman  Empire  from  Augustus  to  Honorius." 


1870.]  The  Method  of  History.  313 

suggest  the  true  interpretation  of  the  annals  of  the  Old.  John 
Baptist  Vico,  a  native  of  Naples,  published  in  1725  his  "  Sci- 
enza  Nuova,"  or  "  Principles  of  a  New  Science  relative  to  the 
Common  Nature  of  Nations."  This  work  contains  the  germ  of 
many  of  the  speculations  of  subsequent  philosophies  of  history ; 
but  its  principal  merit  consists  in  its  clear  and  emphatic  asser 
tion  of  the  principle  of  divine  necessity,  that 'is,  of  a  natural 
law  in  historic  processes  and  revolutions.  Vico  was  the  first  to 
point  out  distinctly  the  analogies  and  parallelisms  in  the  history 
of  nations,  and  to  show  that  the  progress  of  society  follows  a 
given  order;  that  nations  have  their  necessary  preappointed 
course  of  evolution  and  revolution  ;  that  human  history,  in 
short,  no  less  than  the  material  universe,  is  governed  by  fixed 
laws,  consequently  that  history  is  a  science,  or  that  a  science 
of  history  is  possible.  It  is  found,  says  Michelet,  in  his  essay 
on  the  New  Science,  that  nations  the  most  remote  in  time  and 
space  follow  in  their  political  revolutions  and  in  those  of  their 
languages  a  strikingly  analogous  course.  "  To  disengage  the 
regular  from  the  accidental ;  to  trace  the  universal,  eternal 
history  which  develops  itself  in  time  in  the  form  of  particular 
histories ;  to  describe  the  ideal  circle  within  which  the  real  world 
revolves,  —  this  is  the  aim  of  the  new  science.  It  is  at  once 
the  philosophy  and  the  history  of  humanity." 

From  an  examination  of  the  languages,  laws,  and  religions 
of  different  peoples,  and  a  survey  of  the  course  of  events  in 
the  principal  nations,  Vico  deduces  these  positions:  1.  Human 
society  is  based  on  three  fundamental  conditions,  —  worship,  or 
the  belief  in  Divine  Providence ;  marriage,  or  the  restraint  of 
the  passions ;  sepultural  rites,  or  the  belief  in  immortality. 
These  are  what  Tacitus  calls  foedera  generis  humani.  2.  Soci 
ety  has  three  great  periods,  —  the  theocratic,  the  heroic,  and 
the  humane.  3.  The  civil  and  political  life  of  nations,  so  long 
as  they  preserve  their  independence,  assumes  successively  four 
different  forms  of  government.  The  theocratic  age  produces 
domestic  monarchy  (patriaichism).  The  heroic  produces  aris 
tocracy,  or  the  government  of  the  city,  limiting  the  abuse  of 
power.  Then  comes  democracy,  founded  on  the  idea  of  natural 
equality.  And  lastly,  despotism,  or  imperial  rule,  establishes 
itself  on  the  ruins  of  democracy,  and  puts  an  end  to  the  anarchy 


314  The  Method  of  History.  [Oct. 

and  public  corruption  to  which  popular  governments  give  rise. 
Or,  if  that  remedy  fails,  the  degenerate  nation,  given  over  to 
anarchy  and  corruption,  becomes  the  prey  of  the  spoiler,  and 
succumbs  to  a  foreign  yoke.  4.  When  a  nation  or  when 
society  has  passed 'through  these  stages,  and,  unreclaimed  by 
the  revolutions  it  has  experienced,  still  continues  to  decline 
and  degenerate,  it  passes  at  last  into  a  second  barbarism. 
Faith  expires,  religion  languishes,  men  grow  brutal,  cities 
decay,  society  becomes  effete  and  lies  supine  until  regenerated 
by  some  providential  impulse  from  without.  Then  the  cycle 
of  history  begins  anew,  and  humanity  repeats  with  new  auspices 
its  appointed  course.  5.  From  the  facts  thus  observed,  from 
the  indications  of  law  and  a  regular  succession  in  human  events, 
Yico  derives  the  idea  of  a  great  city  of  nations,  whose  founder 
and  governor  is  God,  a  republic  of  the  universe,  the  miracle  of 
whose  constitution  is  that  through  all  its  revolutions  it  finds  in 
the  very  corruptions  of  each  preceding  state  the  elements  of  a 
new  and  better  birth. 

Since  the  publication  of  the  4<  Scienza  Nuova,"  the  philosophy 
of  history  has  found  no  end  of  expositors.  Of  the  numerous 
works  in  this  department,  the  most  influential  have  been  Mon 
tesquieu's  "  Esprit  des  Loix,"  Ferguson's  "  Civil  Society,"  Les- 
sing's  little  treatise,  u  The  Education  of  the  Human  Race," 
Herder's  "  Ideen  zur  Philosophic  der  Geschichte  der  Mensch- 
heit,"  Kant's  "  Zur  Philosophic  der  Geschichte,"  Fichte's 
"  Grundziige  des  gegenwartigen  Zeitalters,"  the  chapters  re 
lating  to  the  progress  of  human  society  in  Comte's  u  Cours 
de  Philosophic  Positive,"  and  Hegel's  "  Philosophic  der  Ge 
schichte."  We  are  speaking  of  the  philosophy  of  history  in 
the  narrowest  sense,  not  of  historic  criticism  or  historic  art ; 
else  would  a  host  of  names  of  equal  and  even  graver  note  de 
mand  to  be  noticed  in  this  connection. 

It  is  now  understood  that  history  has  its  laws,  as  well  as 
astronomy ;  that  the  course  of  events  is  a  necessary,  not  a  for 
tuitous  succession,  and  the  march  of  humanity  through  the 
nations  aid  through  the  ages  a  series  of  progressive  develop 
ments.  The  supposition  is  fundamental  to  the  study  of  history 
as  a  science.  If  the  course  of  events  and  the  destiny  of  na 
tions  were  governed  by  no  law  and  subject  to  no  method,  there 


1870. J  The  Method  of  History.  315 

could  be  no  science  of  history,  but  only  chronicles,  registries 
of  facts  unreferred  to  any  principle  or  ruling  idea,  incapable 
of  classification.  The  study  of  history  in  that  case  would  be 
useless,  because  it  would  lead  to  nothing.  The  end  of  all 
study  is  the  discovery  of  law,  that  is,  of  spirit,  that  is,  of  Deity 
in  the  facts  studied.  If  in  any  class  of  facts  no  law  were 
discoverable,  the  knowledge  of  those  facts  would  be  hardly 
worth  the  labor  spent  in  acquiring  it.  We  read  history  to  little 
purpose,  if  we  read  it  only  as  a  record  of  facts,  and  see  in  it  no 
demonstration  of  Divine  method.  The  facts  themselves  are  not 
truly  apprehended,  unless  we  see  them  in  the  light  of  some 
principle  or  law  which  they  illustrate.  Take  the  battle  of 
Actium,  in  Roman  history.  I  read  that  the  forces  of  Octavius 
met  those  of  Antonius  in  the  Ambracian  Gulf,  and  obtained  a 
signal  victory  over  them.  What  signifies  that  fact  to  me  ? 
What  do  I  know  of  Roman  history,  if  all  I  gather  from  it  is 
that  Octavius  was  the  better  general  or  the  luckier  man  of  the 
two  ?  The  real  fact  has  escaped  me,  if  I  fail,  to  perceive  its 
historic  import.  It  was  not  valor  nor  luck,  but  historic  neces 
sity  that  triumphed  in  that  encounter.  It  was  necessary  that 
democracy  should  replace  an  aristocratic  oligarchy,  like  that  of 
republican  Rome.  It  was  necessary  that  democratic  anarchy 
should  be  replaced  by  an  imperial  head.  Octavius  represents, 
in  that  conflict,  the  Latin  or  popular  element  in  Roman  his 
tory.  Antonius  represents  the  Sabine  or  patrician.  The  in 
ternal  history  of  the  Roman  Republic,  and  especially  that  of  the 
previous  century,  had  been  a  conflict  of  these  two  elements, 
the  former  seeking  to  disengage  itself  from  the  latter.  The 
battle  of  Actium  was  the  consummation  of  that  struggle.  With 
the  triumph  of  Octavius,  qvi  cuncta  discordiis  ciuilibus  fessa 
nomine  principis  sub  imperium  accepit*  democracy  came  to  a 
head,  Latin  civility  came  to  maturity,  and  in  its  turn  became 
the  matrix  of  its  successor  in  empire,  the  Christian  Church. 

An  objection  may  be  raised  against  the  doctrine  of  historic 
necessity,  on  the  score  of  human  free  will.  The  conduct  of 
history  lies  in  the  hands  of  human  free  agents.  A  glance  at 
the  course  of  events  shows  us  that  those  revolutions  \shich 

*  Tacitus.  • 

VOL.  cxi.  —  NO.  229.  21 


The  Method  of  History.  [Oct. 

have  furnished  the  materials  and  given  the  direction  to  his 
tory  have  been  the  work  of  individuals  following  the  impulse 
of  their  own  wills.  How,  then,  can  we  affirm  them  to  be  the 
operation  of  a  law,  or  how  can  history  conducted  by  free  will 
be  a  necessary  process  ?  If  one  looks  at  the  matter  a  priori, 
it  seems  a  priori  improbable  that  the  destinies  of  humanity 
should  be  committed  to  individual  caprice,  or  that  able  and  de 
signing  men  should  shape  the  world  according  to  their  whim. 
But  what  is  the  fact  ?  Free  agency  acts  under  given  condi 
tions,  and  those  conditions  are  contained  in  the  natural  order 
of  things.  There  is  no  more  escape  from  that  order  in  the 
moral  world  than  in  the  physical.  All  the  motions  on  the 
earth's  surface,  however  arbitrary  and  contrary  one  to  another, 
obey  the  parent  motion  of  the  earth,  and  are  swept  along  in 
the  spheral  march.  So  all  possible  movements  of  the  human 
will  are  comprehended  in  the  providential  sweep  of  the  parent 
will  which  works  in  each.  The  contradiction  between  freedom 
and  necessity,  so  perplexing  in  the  sphere  of  private  life,  dis 
appears  in  the  large  dynamic  of  history.  There,  freedom  and 
necessity  are  seen  to  be  different  factors  of  one  movement,—- 
freedom  the  human,  necessity  the  divine.  The  highest  free 
dom  is  the  strongest  necessity,  as  in  chemistry  those  affinities 
which  are  termed  elective  are  precisely  the  most  determined. 
Says  Kant:  "  Whatever  notion,  in  a  metaphysical  point  of  view, 
we  may  form  to  ourselves  of  the  freedom  of  the  will,  its  mani 
festation,  i.  e.  human  actions,  like  every  other  natural  event, 
is  determined  by  general  laws  of  nature."  * 

To  the  eye  of  sense,  "  the  river  windeth  at  its  own  sweet 
will,"  but  reflection  knows  that  the  valley  through  which  it 
winds  has  been  scooped  by  the  action  of  unchangeable  laws ; 
and  in  human  life  all  freedom  that  succeeds  is  free  occupation 
of  appointed  paths.  The  course  of  destiny  is  the  providential 
channel  in  which  human  freedom  elects  to  run.  Accordingly, 
the  great  men  of  history,  the  history-makers,  are  the  "  provi 
dential  men  " ;  they  are  those,  in  the  language  of  Hegel,  f 
"  whose  private  purposes  contain  the  substance  of  that  which 
is  willed  by  the  spirit  of  the  world."  They  may  not  be  aware 

*  Zur   Philosophic  der  Geschichte ;  Idee  zu  einer  Allgemeinen  Geschichte  in 
Weltbiirgerlichen  Absfcht. 
t  Philosophic  der  Geschichte. 


1870.]  The  Method  of  History.  317 

of  their  providential  function  ;  they  may  not  contemplate  all 
the  results  they  are  used  to  effect ;  the  ulterior  consequences 
of  their  free  action  may  not  have  come  within  the  scope  of 
their  design.  The  consequences  follow  none  the  less.  Leo 
the  Isaurian  issues  an  edict  prohibiting  the  use  of  images  and 
pictures  in  the  churches ;  Pope  Gregory  repudiates  the  edict, 
and  resists  its  execution  in  the  West.  What  follows  ?  While 
Emperor  and  Pontiff  quarrel  among  themselves,  the  empire 
splits  between  them,  a  goodly  fraction  comes  off  in  Gregory's 
hands.  Following  the  bent  of  his  own  will  in  his  own  ecclesi 
astical  affairs,  that  prelate  becomes  the  providential  means  of 
sundering  East  and  West,  never  to  be  united  again.  Rolf,  from 
the  coast  of  Norway,  bent  on  plunder,  lands  his  pirates  on  the 
soil  of  France,  and  extorts  from  Charles  the  Simple  a  slice  of 
his  kingdom.  Rolf  has  no  prevision  of  a  Norman  landing  on 
the  coast  of  Sussex,  and  an  Anglo-Norman  kingdom,  and  an 
English  House  of  Lords,  all  which  the  future  drew  from  that 
raid  of  his,  whose  providential  import  was  to  give  to  the  finest 
of  the  Gothic  races  a  worthy  field  for  their  development. 

Sometimes,  however,  the  providential  men,  like  Julius  Caesar, 
Mohammed,  Cromwell,  have  shown  themselves  conscious  of 
that  Divinity  which  shapes  our  ends  and  subsidizes  our  free 
will  in  accomplishing  its  designs.  It  was  no  affectation  or 
puerile  vanity  which  prompted  the  first  Napoleon  to  call  him 
self  the  "  Child  of  Destiny,"  but  an  irresistible  conviction  of 
a  power  behind  him  whose  minister  he  was  in  spite  of  himself. 

Assuming,  then,  as  a  settled  truth,  that  the  course  of  history 
is  governed  by  natural  laws,  the  question  arises,  How  far  ?«re 
those  laws  discoverable  and  demonstrable  by  scientific  investi 
gation  ?  This  is  a  question  which  only  the  future  of  scientific 
investigation  can  answer.  The  application  of  logic  to  history 
is  yet  too  recent,  history  itself  is  too  recent,  to  furnish  a 
complete  solution.  All  that  we  can  thus  far  assert,  with  any 
degree  of  confidence,  is,  that  enough  of  law  is  discoverable  to 
constitute  history  a  science,  or  that  a  science  of  history  is 
possible. 

The  subject  of  this  science  is  Man.  To  distinguish  it  from 
anthropology  let  us  say,  Man  in  Society.  To  distinguish  it 
from  ethnology  let  us  say,  Man  the  subject  of  progressive 


318  The  Method  of  History.  [Oct. 

development.  We  have  then  three  distinct  topics :  Man, 
Society  or  the  State,  and  Social  Progress. 

1.  Man.  To  the  catholic  eye  of  history  he  is  one.  The 
science  presupposes  what  all  its  discoveries  tend  to  demon 
strate, —  the  unity  of  the  human  race.  We  need  not  trouble 
ourselves  with  the  question  whether  all  men  actually  originated 
from  one  pair,  or  whether  different  portions  of  the  globe  have 
given  birth  to  independent  varieties  of  the  animal  man.  Enough 
that  man,  as  the  subject  of  history,  is  one.  The  historic 
nations  have  descended  from  one  original.  If  any  of  the  races 
that  inhabit  the  earth  have  a  different  origin,  those  races  are 
not  historic  ;  they  have  no  part  in  human  destiny,  and  will 
finally  disappear  from  the  earth,  or  be  absorbed  by  historic 
man.  Man,  as  the  subject  of  history,  is  one.  The  nations  that 
compose  him  have  one  geographical,  probably  one  genealogical 
origin. 

Historic  man  was  born,  according  to  tradition,  in  Western 
Asia,  precisely  where  speculative  ethnology  would  place  his 
.  origin.  If  we  glance  at  a  map  of  the  world  on  Mercator's  pro 
jection,  we  shall  find  that  the  portion  of  the  earth's  surface 
which  lies  between  the  thirtieth  and  fortieth  degrees  of  north 
latitude,  and  between  the  fortieth  and  sixtieth  of  east  longitude, 
is  about  the  centre  of  the  habitable  globe.  Here  it  is,  or  here 
abouts,  that  tradition  first  discovers  man,  on  the  banks  of  the 
Tigris  and  the. Euphrates.  From  this  natal  centre  we  find  him 
radiating  eastward  and  southeastward  to  the  borders  of  the 
Pacific  and  the  Indian  Ocean,  westward  and  northwestward  to 
the  Mediterranean  and  the  Atlantic.  In  later  ages  his  course 
has  been  prevailingly  westward,  across  the  Atlantic  into  South 
and  North  America.  And  now,  having  crossed  the  American 
continent,  and  reached  the  uttermost  verge  of  the  west,  on  the 
borders  of  that  Pacific  which  long  since  bounded  his  eastern 
migration,  he  has  "  come  full  circle  "  around  the  globe. 

The  where  being  settled,  the  next  question  is,  How  did  man 
begin  his  race  ?  Civilized  or  savage,  in  rude  ignorance  or  fur 
nished  with  science  and  art  ?  This  has  long  been  a  point  in 
debate  between  ethnologers  and  theologians.  The  latter  have 
taught  that  man's  first  estate  wag  superior,  not  only  in  moral 
purity,  but  also  in  intellectual  illumination,  to  every  subsequent 


1870.]  The  Method  of  History.  319 

age.  Philosophy,  on  the  contrary,  maintains  that  the  original 
state  was  a  savage  state,  such  as  we  find  it  to  this  day  in  South 
Africa  and  New  Zealand,  and  that  ages  went  by  before  the  race 
attained  to  the  knowledge  and  arts  of  civilized  life.  Happily, 
our  subject  is  not  burdened  with  the  responsibility  of  this  ques 
tion.  We  have  nothing  to  do  with  man  prior  to  the  period 
when  history  finds  him,  that  is,  the  earliest  period  marked  by 
contemporary  or  nearly  contemporary  records.  The  existence 
of  records  implies  civilization.  The  word  "  history,"  it  will  be 
observed,  has  a  twofold  sense.  We  use  it  to  denote  the  course 
of  events,  and  we  use  it  to  denote